The 116-Year-Old Woman’s Secrets for a Longer Life

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Jessica McGowan/Guinness World Records

The world’s oldest person, Besse Cooper of Monroe, Georgia, turned 116 on Sunday (congratulations Besse!), and we here at Health definitely love her secrets to longevity: “I mind my own business,” she told the Guinness World Records. “And I don’t eat junk food.” Not to mention, Cooper’s son Sidney shared some impressive information about his mother to the Walton Tribune: “The older she has gotten the more wittier [sic] she has gotten.” Now those are some genes!

My own grandma, Nancy Trever, turns 100 in September, and I can’t wait to celebrate this huge milestone with her. In honor of her upcoming birthday, my grandma shared with me some of her own secrets to a long life. “I eat lots of fruits and veggies, do crossword puzzles every day, and listen to jazz music to keep me young.” Also, a love for San Diego sports teams (go Padres!) and her UCLA Bruins keeps her spirited. And she, like Cooper, has a sharper wit than ever (nothing gets past Nancy!), and in fact, probably has a better memory than my entire family, combined.

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Courtesy of Leslie Barrie

Another editor here at Health, Olivia Rassow, has a grandma (Barbara Bagdy) who just turned 88. To prove to us all that it’s never too late to pick up a new skill, Bagdy got an iPad for her birthday. Other than staying up with the times, Bagdy had some wise advice for living longer. “Life won’t always be perfect, but you should make the decision to just be happy.”

And those are especially prudent words from grandma Bagdy, as keeping stress-free is one of the factors that may contribute to a long life. Some other good habits to follow for potential added years: floss every day, eat healthy (one of the most important factors in aging is not gaining weight), tease your brain, exercise, and sleep well (there’s no magic number, but enough to make you feel rested).

Wondering how long you’ll live? With the help of Tom Perls, MD, who studies centenarians (people who’ve lived to 100 and beyond) at Boston University, we’ve developed a way to calculate your potential age, based on the latest research.

Take the quiz here, and cheers to a healthy, happy life!


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