America’s Oldest Person Dies at 113: Here’s How She Lived So Long

04/03/2013

Longevity photoThe year Elsie Calvert Thompson was born the Spanish/American War was going on, President William McKinley had not yet been assassinated, gold was discovered in Alaska, and voting machines had just been approved by Congress.

Thompson, slated as America’s oldest person, was born April 5, 1899 and was one of just 14 other people left on earth that was alive during the 19th century.

Thompson died peacefully in her home in Clearwater, Fl, on March 21, just a few weeks before her 114th birthday, according to The Daily Mail.  

Thompson enjoyed ballroom dancing, singing, and playing the piano. She was rarely in a bad mood and loved to be around people. She was a happy, uplifting person to be around until the day she died, according to those close to her. 

Thompson’s ashes are buried next to her late husband in Pennsylvania. Her only son, George Thompson, age 72, says she had congestive heart failure. 

The Daily Mail reports that America’s next oldest person, now oldest, Jeralean Talley, born May 23, 1899, also holds the title of being the oldest black person alive. 

We love these stories about people that live so long past the 100 year mark. But what are they doing right? What do they all have in common? 

4 keys to increasing your longevity:

1. Be an optimist. 

Stress and unhappiness take a toll on the body overtime. Most centenarians are happier, optimistic people just like Thompson was until her very last day.

"The results [of a study in the journal Aging] indicated they [centenarians] had two things -- a positive attitude for life, meaning they are optimistic, easygoing, extraverted, laughed more and expressed emotions rather than bottling them up," said Dr. Nil Barzilai, a study co-author and director of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Institute for Aging Research to ABC News.

2. Dance.

It’s another way to love the life you’re living and be active long into old age. Thompson loved to dance and so does the world’s oldest yoga teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch. Or just be active in doing what you love to do, like Fauja Singh, the first centenarian to complete a marathon

3. Keep your weight in check.

As you might expect, centenarians are usually free of many of the diseases like heart disease and diabetes that cause ill health later in life. Centenarians don't abuse cigarettes or drink too much and they are rarely, if ever obese.

4. Have good genes.

Without a doubt, genetics play a major role in unusually long lives. Centenarians often have others in their family that have lived past a century. But genetics isn't the only component. Based on studies at Boston University, it's 70 to 80 percent environment and 20 to 30 percent genes.

Cheers to Elsie Calvert Thompson for being an inspiration to us all!

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Read More: Record Longevity: 100 Year Old Finishes Marathon


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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