Born in Denmark in 1882, Christian Mortensen lived to the ripe old age of 115 before dying in his sleep in 1998. On his last birthday, Mortensen credited his long life to "friends, a good cigar, drinking lots of good water, no alcohol, staying positive, and lots of singing."
Ruth Gruber was born in 1911, before women had the right to vote, and went on to become a legendary photojournalist, foreign correspondent, and author before dying at the age of 105. Her advice to increase one's longevity was true to her journalistic efforts: "never, never, never, never retire." But what works for some doesn't necessarily work for all, and there's conflicting advice from experts on whether life expectancy is improved by retiring earlier or later.
Scotland's oldest living woman Jessie Gallan passed away in 2015 at age 109, shortly after telling The Times her secret was eating porridge every morning as well as "staying away from men. They're just more trouble than they're worth." She's not the only single female supercentenarian to say so, and the claim is further bolstered by studies showing that lifelong single women tend to do better than their male counterparts.
Atlanta pediatrician Dr. Leila Denmark lived to 114 years old before dying in April 2012, retiring from her work only 11 years before, at the age of 103. Her advice on achieving such longevity was simple: "Most of all, you have to love what you're doing. Anything you have to do is work. Anything you love to do is play."
Pearl Cantrell of Richland Springs, Texas, died in 2014 at the age of 105, but not before crediting her unusually long life to an unexpected source: bacon. "I love bacon, I eat it everyday," she said. But don't fill your fridge with Oscar Meyer just yet. Bacon is typically seen as providing a smorgasbord of health risks, such as sodium and saturated fat.
The Italian island of Sardinia is one of five "Blue Zones," or regions identified as having the world's highest concentrations of centenarians, and thus there have been numerous efforts to document what aspects of the local culture contribute to this trend of longevity. Residents credited their clean air and locally produced wine, while researchers found living past age 100 was most highly correlated with pastoralism, or shepherding livestock — a lifestyle associated with high consumption of goat's milk and sheep's cheese, about 15 pounds per year.
At 112, the nation's oldest man and oldest surviving war veteran, Richard Overton has defied expectations by living more than a century in spite of fully embracing many of the unhealthiest of vices. The Austin resident said in 2017 that he smokes up to 12 cigars and drinks four glasses of whiskey each day, while also prescribing his "Overton diet" of eating ice cream every night. "It makes me happy," he said. Overton was in the news recently when someone robbed his bank account. The bank, however, has restored the funds.
Another supercentenarian with a fondness for everyone's favorite fried breakfast fixture, Susannah Mushatt Jones lived for nearly 117 years relying on four strips of bacon along with scrambled eggs and grits every morning for breakfast. Like other supercentenarians, she also took minimal medications even in old age, only consuming a multivitamin and one pill for her blood pressure.