Many dream of making it to their 100th birthday, but few do. And despite what doctors, nutritionists, and your neighbors may suggest to help you along the way, there’s no guaranteed route to get there.
But if you’re going to put stock in anything, why not the tips and tricks of those who have made it to the major milestone — and beyond? (Besides just hoping you’ve hit the genetic jackpot.)
1. Travel while you can.
Old age doesn’t make for easy jet-setting, but British woman Gladys Gough, who reached age 103 back in 2011, traveled while she could. “She never married but has been to so many countries, I can’t think of many places she hasn’t been to,” her younger friend Jean Cross — age 84 — said.
2. Eat eggs and cookies.
At 117, the current oldest person alive is Emma Morano. She doesn’t only attribute her long life to her singledom, but perhaps to her eating habits, too. She eats two raw eggs, one cooked egg, and a number of cookies every day. She’s been eating the eggs daily since she was 20 years old. Though nowadays, she admits she doesn’t eat much, “because I have no teeth.”
3. Don’t leave your house.
Everyone loves a good night in, but no one appreciates it more than a centenarian. Morano also credits her longevity to staying in and going to bed early. She takes her commitment to staying in seriously: She hasn’t left her apartment in 20 years.
4. Bacon. Lots of bacon.
Susannah Mushatt Jones, who died at 116 in 2016, had one eating habit that lasted for over a century: Her love of bacon. She told Business Insider that it’s the first thing she eats every single morning — followed by eggs. (See a pattern here?)
5. Spend most of your day sleeping.
If you want to one day hold the title of World’s Oldest Person, you better get some shuteye. Past titleholders, Kamato Hongo, who died at age 116, and Leandra Becerra Lumbreras, who died at age 127, both had a habit of sleeping for days on end. For Hongo, she’d sleep so much her family would sometimes even feed her in her sleep.
6. Be generous.
Jones lived a life full of giving. She was known for her signature gift of pill boxes filled with change. When friends and family came over to her Brooklyn home, she’d bake cakes for when they arrived. And she used her hard-earned salary to put her nieces through college. She also funded scholarships for Alabama students, so they’d be able to attend college. She was inspired to do so after she herself was not able to attend due to financial constraints.
You wouldn’t think a doctor would recommend alcohol as a health remedy — but for centenarian Dorothy Parke, she said her doctor claims drinking helped her reach her 100th birthday. ‘I put my health down to whisky and cigarettes,” she said. “I only drink when I’m out but my doctor said I wouldn’t be alive without them.”
8. Work hard.
Many centenarians spent their lives hard at work. Lumbreras fought in the Mexican Revolution, which started way back in 1910. Jones worked as a nanny and on a farm. Jessie Gallan, another centenarian who died at 109 in 2015, started working at age 13, as a milkmaid. She attributes her lifelong work ethic to her old age.
“I always worked hard and seldom would I ever take a holiday,” she said.
9. Or, be lazy.
But if hard work isn’t your thing, don’t worry — you still have a chance of making it to 100. Mary Francis Carruba, who turned 100 last year, said that doing the opposite was how she made it to the milestone.
“I was always a lazy bird,” she said. “That’s the secret to living longer – be lazy.”
10. Stay single.
Across the board, the thing that seems to unite many of the world’s oldest living women is their relationship history — or lack thereof. Many never married or were single for the vast majority of their lives.
Leandra Becerra Lumbreras, a Mexican woman thought to be the oldest person who ever lived, died in 2014 at the age of 127. She credited her long life to never getting married (and chocolate!).
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The two most recent women to hold the title of world’s oldest living person — Emma Morano, the current title-holder, and Susannah Mushatt Jones, both spent the majority of their lives without a partner. Jones was briefly married and never had children, and Morano left her abusive husband in 1938.
She said she never remarried because “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone.”
Gallan said much of the same.
“My secret to a long life has been staying away from men,” she said. “They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.”
So did Gough, who lived to be 104.
“I never got married or had a boyfriend either,” she said. “That probably had something to do with it. I just couldn’t be bothered with men.”
Well, if that’s what works!