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Pattaya Daily News

31 July 2010 :: 17:07:56 pm 33960

Living to be a Centenarian & Super Centenarian

How many of us would like to live to a ripe old age and still have our faculties about us? There have been a lot of discussions and ideas as to what allows certain people to live long and healthy lives. There are a number of people who smoke, drink and eat all the supposedly wrong foods that manage to outlive the keep fit fanatics out there.
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There have been a number of people who have lived to the age of 100 plus, known as ‘centenarians’ while those who live to 110 or more are ‘super centenarians’, but there are only a very small portion of people who live to be 100 years of age.  One in 1000 centenarians reach the age of 110 with a further 2 percent who survive to see 115.

Below is a list of some of the verified claims although there are a few disputed claims that have some proof to back them up. A Japanese super centenarian, Kamato Hongo was apparently the oldest living person from March 2002 until she died in 2003 from pneumonia. She lived in Kagoshima with her daughter and was a minor celebrity, turning 116 a month before her death. She was 58 years old at the end of WWII.

Carrie C. White was a resident of Palatka Florida Nursing Home and made it to the Guinness World Records as the oldest person in the world on her 114th birthday in 1988. She ended up in a nursing home after a nervous breakdown in 1909 which left her institutionalized.  Carrie’s age was disputed, but her documents appeared to be in order, giving her the title of the worlds’ oldest person between January 11th 1988 and February 14th 1991.

There were only seven people worldwide who made it to the age of 116. Elizabeth Bolden was one of the seven. Born in 1890 in Somerville Tennessee, she was the daughter of a freed slave. She had seven children and 40 grand children, 75 great grand children, 150 great-great grand-children, 220 great-great-great grand-children and 75 great-great-great-great grand-children. Only two of her children still lived at the time of her death in 2006.

Tane Ikain is Japan’s oldest female on record ever and the oldest undisputed person since the Koseki system in 1879. She outlived her daughter and her three sons, moving to a retirement home in 1972 at the age of 93 where she enjoyed sewing and pottery until she had a stroke aged 99. She suffered another stroke at age 113 was bed-ridden ever since. She survived on three meals of rice soup a day and died aged 116 and 175 days from kidney failure. Her body was the first of a super centenarian known to have been autopsied.

Born in Equador on 14th September 1889 Maria Esther Heredia de Capovilla, lived 116 years and 347 days before her death on 27th August 2006. She was the oldest documented person to have lived through three centuries. She was the daughter of a colonel and lived her life with the upper crust elite. She never smoked or drank liquor. At the age of 116 she was said to still be reading the papers, watching TV and walk with a stick. A few months after she turned 116 her health declined and she stopped talking. She died of pneumonia just 118 days before her 117the birthday.

Born August 1880 Marie-Louise Meilleur  was a French-Canadian super centenarian who became the oldest living person on the death of Jeanne Calment. Upon her death on 16th April aged 117 years and 230 days, she is still the oldest Canadian.  Her son was living at the same nursing home as her at the time of her death of a blood clot, while her daughter was a 90 year old. Marie was recordered to have been a vegetarian and a heavy smoker.

At 117 years and 248 days, Lucy Hannah was born 16th July 1875 and died on 21st March 1993. She was an American and the oldest African American to have ever lived.

Sarah Knauss, born 24th September 1880, she was the oldest person to have ever lived in the US, living her whole life in Pennsylvania until her death on 30th December 1999 Aged 119 years 97 days. Her daughter who was 96 at the time of her death lived to the age of 101. Sarah was a very refined and elegant lady up until her sudden death. She suffered no illness prior to her end, dying quietly in her room.  Had she lived another three days, she would have survived three centuries.

Shigechiyo Izumi is a disputed case although the Guinness World Record still maintains that his record is valid. Izumi is unique on a list of super centenarians because he is male. The pattern of longevity appears to favor women. Izumi, a super centenarian was born in Japan on 29th June 1865. His name was recorded in Japan’s first census in 1871 and holds the world record for the longest working life working a total of 98 years. His wife died age 90. He drank brown sugar shochu, an alcoholic beverage distilled from barley or rice and took up smoking at age 70.  He started working in 1872, when he was six years old and continued working until 1970 at age 105. He said his long life was the work of the gods, Buddha and the sun. He lived through a total of 71 Japanese prime ministers, dying on 21st February 1986 aged 120 years and 237 days from pneumonia after a brief time in hospital.

From 21st February 1875 to 4th August 1997 Jeanne Calment was a French super centenarian.  She outlived her daughter and grandson and was the last person to have ever met Vincent Van Gogh when he visited her home town of Arles. Her lifespan has been thoroughly documented up until her death at the ripe old age of 122 years and 164 days. Having outlived her family and leaving no living relatives, Jeanne then aged 90, made a deal to sell her house to her lawyer who paid for it on a monthly basis at the cost of 2,500 francs a month until her death. He ended up paying more than double the value of the property’s worth, which was bad enough without him dying at the age of 77 from cancer in 1995, leaving his wife to continue with the payments until Jeanne’s end, 32 years after their agreement.

Jeanne described Van Gough as being dirty, badly dressed and very disagreeable when she first met him in 1888 in her fathers’ shop, and recalled watching the erection of the Eiffel tower. She took up fencing at the age of 85 and still rode a bicycle when she turned 100.  Jeanne lived alone until the age of 110 when she went to live in a nursing home after nearly killing herself in a cooking accident. She was able bodied, walking around on her own until a fall put her in a wheelchair at 114 years and 11 months. She caught the flu at 116 and smoked up until she was 117. She used olive oil in all her cooking, drank it and rubbed it into her skin. She loved port wine and devoured 1 kg of chocolate a week.

This last case is quite interesting as his age has been in dispute although his passport showed his birth date to be 1805, which made him 168 years old when he died in 1973.  Shirali Muslimov was a Talysh shepherd from Barzavu in the region of Azerbaijan a mountainous area near the Iranian border.  He was allegedly over 160 years old in his photo.

Sarah Goldman

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