Then there’s Scotland’s oldest woman, Jessie Gallan, who turned 109 in January and made headlines when she said that avoiding men has helped her stay alive. “They’re just more trouble than they’re worth,” she said, according to the Daily Mail.
Her keys to longevity: “I also made sure that I got plenty of exercise, eat a nice warm bowl of porridge every morning and have never gotten married.”
Before you think I’m suggesting #BanAllMen, ladies, and everything the light touches may be yours, there are actually many factors contributing to living well into your 100s.
Genetics play a big role: Researchers who study “supercentenarians” (people 110 and older) have found that age-related diseases and disabilities are delayed in such individuals, suggesting a genetic predisposition.
For Gallan, living long may run in the family; her older sister, Annie, died just prior to turning 102. The sisters stayed active together, Jessie Gallan told the Aberdeen Evening Express in 2006. “My sister and I just kept on working and walking,” she said.
Indeed, staying independent and active is another common thread among those who live well into their 100s. A study of 32 supercentenarians found that “a surprisingly substantial proportion of these individuals were still functionally independent or required minimal assistance,” researchers noted. The paper was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Maybe it’s that sense of independence that keep marvels such as Morano happily single; she still lives in her own home and doesn’t like to visit hospitals. She told the Times that her only marriage was an unhappy one, and she had many suitors after separation.
Her comment — that “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone” — doesn’t necessarily mean that she would have been, had she decided to remarry. Rather, it may just show her strong, independent spirit that she doesn’t want hampered, whether it be by a man, the societal expectations of wives, or by old age.
Jerry Friedman has noted other shared traits among the world’s oldest people. The photojournalist traveled far and wide to interview and photograph 50 of them, and he found that friends and family kept these individuals from feeling isolated; they led active lives and many grew up in rural environments; and they had good senses of humor and optimistic outlooks on life.
Gallan’s perspective was evident in an interview with STV News when she turned 108. “A long life? Well, you just fill every day as [much] as possible,” she said. “I’ve never had any pain on anybody. I’ve had my ups and downs, maybe, but I’m fine.”