News / Health

More Americans Turning 100 Than Ever Before

More Americans Turning 100 Than Ever Beforei
X
Julie Taboh
July 07, 2014 4:09 PM
An Arkansas woman who just celebrated her 116th birthday isn't as unusual as some might think. Gertrude Weaver -- officially the oldest living American and second-oldest person in the world -- belongs to a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population: people who are 100 years old or older. There are about 53,000 centenarians in the U.S. today. VOA's Julie Taboh shares their secrets to longevity.

An Arkansas woman who just celebrated her 116th birthday isn't as unusual as some might think.

Gertrude Weaver -- officially the oldest living American and second-oldest person in the world -- belongs to a fast-growing segment of the U.S. population: people who are 100 years old or older.

There are about 53,000 centenarians in the U.S. today, and they are happy to share the secrets to their longevity.

Marianne Arden, 101, performs at a community center near her Chevy Chase, Maryland, home. (J. Taboh/VOA)Marianne Arden, 101, performs at a community center near her Chevy Chase, Maryland, home. (J. Taboh/VOA)
x
Marianne Arden, 101, performs at a community center near her Chevy Chase, Maryland, home. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Marianne Arden, 101, performs at a community center near her Chevy Chase, Maryland, home. (J. Taboh/VOA)

Finding your passion

​Music is everything to Marianne Arden, who insists that if she cannot play the piano anymore, she doesn't want to live.

At 101 years old, the Austrian-born American still plays the piano with the same enthusiasm as she did in her younger years when she performed on stages across America.

“I played the songs of the day that were popular and played and sang also some of my own songs,” she said, seated in front of one of two pianos at her home in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Arden has written 130 songs in four different languages, which she still enjoys sharing with the world.

Today, she plays those same songs -- all from memory -- for her friends and neighbors once a week at a community center near her home and hopes to keep playing as long as she’s alive.

Her advice to anyone seeking to live a long and fruitful life is to “love your life,” and “keep your mind busy.”

“It’s important that you make your brain work because if you don’t make it work it will fall asleep,” she said before returning to her piano playing.

Madeline Brown, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, says she never dieted or exercised and always did Madeline Brown, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, says she never dieted or exercised and always did "her own thing." (Photo by Chuck Thornton)
x
Madeline Brown, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, says she never dieted or exercised and always did
Madeline Brown, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday, says she never dieted or exercised and always did "her own thing." (Photo by Chuck Thornton)

Joyful outlook

Madeline Brown derives her joy from being around people.

She greets everyone she sees in the hallways of the independent living facility where she’s been a long-time resident, offering hugs and words of encouragement.

“That’s the highlight of my life,” she said on a recent afternoon. “Make somebody happy.”

Brown, who has survived cancer and says she never dieted or exercised, lived to see 17 presidents and recently celebrated her 100th birthday. She is delighted and proud to have received a personal greeting from President and Mrs. Obama, a special recognition presented to all American centenarians.
 
As much as Brown enjoys people, she never married.

“I decided why should I marry one man and make him miserable when I can stay single and make them all happy,” she said.

George Boggess, 102, seen here at his wedding 70 years ago, credits his longevity to wife Dorothy. (Photo courtesy George Boggess)George Boggess, 102, seen here at his wedding 70 years ago, credits his longevity to wife Dorothy. (Photo courtesy George Boggess)
x
George Boggess, 102, seen here at his wedding 70 years ago, credits his longevity to wife Dorothy. (Photo courtesy George Boggess)
George Boggess, 102, seen here at his wedding 70 years ago, credits his longevity to wife Dorothy. (Photo courtesy George Boggess)

Positive attitude

But marriage has been a good thing for George Boggess, who, at 102, has been married to Dorothy for more than 70 years.

“I don’t think I would have lived without her,” he said, and attributes his longevity to his wife and the values he learned growing up in Texas. “We had to go to church, we had to go to school, and we had to work.”

Today, he spends most of his time at a medical center for veterans, where he takes part in many of the events and activities, and cites another important component to his long life: attitude.

“You have to have the right attitude to everything,” he said. “You can’t go around frowning, sad, complaining, criticizing.”

As an African-American soldier who faced many hardships, that attitude helped him survive World War II and his courage earned him a Purple Heart.

“It was thought that black soldiers could not live up to the expectations of other soldiers,” he said. “What we proved during the Battle of the Bulge was that that was a false assumption. We stayed, we fought, we won.”

Science of Longevity

A just-released study that examines why some people live longer than others finds genetics and mobility play a role in longevity.

“Our goal is to learn from people who have successfully aged and try to understand the factors that contributed to that,” said Winnie Rossi, an aging expert at the National Institute on Aging, part of  the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.     

What they have determined so far, is that family history makes a difference.

“Researchers have found over time that brothers and sisters of centenarians tend to live long and healthy too, compared to their counterparts in the population, as do the children of these very old people,” Rossi said.

The study also found that these older individuals tend to have better health profiles than their counterparts who don’t live as long, so they’re able to move around, walk and engage in more activities.

“I think generally people are living longer and healthier, but there is a very robust group of very old people… who are somewhere from their late 90s to well into their hundreds,” said Rossi.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More