Human time capsules
December 4, 2006 6:43 AM   Subscribe

There are about 250,000 centenarians alive today, including several hundred "supercentarians" aged 110+ years. Jerry Friedman, founder of Earth's Elders Foundation, has spent the past four years on a landmark project to introduce the world to the oldest people on earth. And in a similar endeavor, photographer Mark Story has been capturing portraits and stories of people from around the globe who are Living in Three Centuries.
posted by madamjujujive (16 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
More info available on the world's oldest folks at at the Gerentology Research Group.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:45 AM on December 4, 2006

::turns down music and gets off of the lawn::
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:52 AM on December 4, 2006

#3 from the Mark Story link:

"At 102, he was walking ten miles a day.
Now he walks three miles a day and can still
read the bottom three lines on an eye chart.
He gave up drinking in his 60s,
but smoked into his 80s.

"He continues to work a few hours a week
at a tanning salon/espresso cafe."

posted by maryh at 7:22 AM on December 4, 2006

This is a very interesting project, but the photoshopped pics of the supercentarians are a pretty cheesy way of portraying that they've got lots of old memories rattiing around in their wrinkly little noggins. And this one: oh my god! they've made a fruit basket out of that poor old woman's head!
posted by jtajta at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2006

Great post, thanks.
posted by escabeche at 7:42 AM on December 4, 2006

This is a great post. Amazing that there are so many hardy elders floating around. My girlfriend's nana just turned ninety...five? and she's still sharp as a tack. Not as mobile as she used to be due to recent illness, but she occasionally brings up things that I mentioned to her once, over a year ago, that I've totally forgotten about :)
posted by antifuse at 8:37 AM on December 4, 2006

He drove until the age of 106, when his children decided to hide his car keys from him.

Damned teenagers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

This is one of the few threads I can brag about the longevity in my family. That I know of, a couple of my great-grandparents lived to 104 and 106- I know because I met them and got to know them. My great-grandpa would go on several-mile walks every morning up until a few months before he died at 106.

Three of my four grandparents are still alive - their ages are 94, 96 and 97. They're all healthy and mentally alive. My maternal grandma exchanges long letters with many of her grandchildren.

That said, while genes are a vital part of longevity, these people have all been lucky to avoid non-genetic problems such as accidents and disease. My genes might favor me living past 100, but I still might get slammed by a city bus tomorrow.
posted by vacapinta at 9:21 AM on December 4, 2006

I loved Mark Story's photos - the way he really enjoys the texture of aged skin. Just enough words to cast more light on the photos, but nothing preachy. And the one who looks like he belongs in the set, but is only 42... scary.

The other set, on the other hand... I didn't like the way the photos had been manipulated. And he didn't seem to be very proficient at interviewing, either.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:38 AM on December 4, 2006

The oldest person in the world right now is Elizabeth Bolden from Somerville, TN (pop. 2,500), daughter of a freed slave. It happens to be the town where my mothers family is from and where my great-aunt lived to 101 - born and died in the same house. Something in the soil. Or Mississippi delta farming lifestyle. They eat lots of homegrown veggies, have strong family and community ties, live very slow and stress free. This is what they found at Okinawa as well.
posted by stbalbach at 2:07 PM on December 4, 2006

No long-livers in my family, but my maternal grandmother is World Champion in synchronized swimming in the 80-and-up category, at 87.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:41 PM on December 4, 2006

excellent as always mjj- flagged as fantastic!
posted by moonbird at 6:33 PM on December 4, 2006

My grandmother turned 95 last week. She only started going gray about ten years ago and never dyed her hair, though plenty of people thought she did. She's lost most of her sight, but is otherwise very healthy. I'd be surprised if she didn't live well past 100.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:12 PM on December 4, 2006

My mother is 78 and has lost her mind to Alzheimers. But her parents both were going strong into their 90's (and they are very missed, the turn-of-the-century generation were a good bunch of folks...unlike their kids).
posted by Goofyy at 10:03 PM on December 4, 2006

Excellent post, mjjj.
posted by deborah at 3:57 PM on December 5, 2006

posted by etoile at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2006

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