Susannah Mushatt Jones, the world’s oldest person, has died aged 116 – leaving only one person born in the 19th century still alive.
Jones, who co-founded a scholarship fund for young African-American women to go to college and was active in her public building’s tenant patrol until the age of 106, died in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday.
Like other super-centenarians (people aged 110 or above), the daughter of sharecroppers and granddaughter of slaves had her own explanation for her longevity: more than 10 hours of sleep a night and lifelong abstinence from alcohol and cigarettes.
Her niece, Lois Judge, said last year that her aunt, who was born in 1899, benefited from eating fresh fruit and vegetables which she picked herself on the farm where she grew up near Montgomery, Alabama.
Jones became became the oldest person in the world when 117-year-old Misao Okawa, who believed eating sushi was the key to long life, died in Tokyo last year.
Emma Morano poses next to a picture of her younger self. Photograph: Antonino Di Marco/AP (picture below)
The oldest person now is Emma Morano, also 116. Morano, who was born four and a half months after Jones on 28 November 1899, lives in Verbania, north-west Italy, and has seen 11 popes enter the Vatican.
On Friday, journalists descended on her home to report on her landmark status but had to wait until she finished a nap to greet her.
Morano attributes her longevity to eating three raw eggs a day since being a teenager, to ward off anaemia, a glass of homemade grappa – and being single. Morano split from her husband in 1938 and never remarried. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she told the New York Times.
She shares some similarities with Jones, who was only married for a few years and also started her day with eggs, albeit scrambled, and bacon.
However, an expert on ageing said research showed being single was not a reliable recipe for old age. Prof Karen Glaser, from King’s College London’s institute of gerontology and director of its centre of global ageing, said: “100 years of research shows if you’re married, you’re more likely to live longer than if you’re not married.”
Misao Okawa was the oldest person in the world before Jones. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images (picture below)
Both Jones and Morano maintained strong relationships with their extended families and the wider world, which was important, Glaser added. She also said genetics made up about 25% of the secret to longer life – and one of Morano’s sisters lived to 102 while another died just before her 100th birthday.
Smoking, low socioeconomic status and being a man are among factors that can reduce life expectancy. But the mediterranean diet, consisting of lots of fruit, vegetables and fish is believed to increase longevity, said Glaser, pointing to Morano being Italian, and also the example of the oldest person ever, Jeanne Calment, who lived to 122 in the south of France.
Thomas Scharf, professor of social gerontology at Newcastle University, said that as the general population ages the likes of Morano should be celebrated and learnt from. “Within 30 to 40 years there will be half a million people over 100 [in the UK] and there will be more people on that list of super-centenarians,” he said.
SOURCE: The Guardian
GUESS IYKE’s COMMENT: I pray she rests with God. But bia o! Do they also come to Nigeria to check some old folks here?