According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest person in the world was Misao Okawa from Japan. She had held that title since 2013. However, on April 1, Okawa died at the age of 117. She was born on March 5, 1898. NPR reported that she celebrated her last birthday with her family last month.
Okawa had lived in Kurenai Nursing Home in Osaka, Japan since 1997. She reportedly attributed her longevity to eating three big meals every day, sleeping eight hours every night, taking naps during the day, and relaxing as much as possible. Two of her favorite foods were sushi and ramen. She had sushi at least once a month, particularly mackerel on vinegar-steamed rice. However, in the last 10 days, she had stopped eating.
The staff at the nursing home related that Okawa had slowed down in recent months and was having trouble hearing. Other than that, she was in pretty good health.
Okawa was a centenarian from the time she was 100 to 110 years old. Then she became a super-centenarian until she died. A super-centenarian is a person who lives to or beyond the age of 110 years old. Only about one in 1,000 centenarians becomes a super-centenarian.
CNN reports that Okawa leaves behind three children, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Longevity must run in the family because Okawa’s oldest child is a 94-year-old son, and her oldest daughter is 92 years old.
Some interesting things happened during Okawa’s lifetime. The first automobile was sold in the year she was born, and the speed was a record of 39 miles per hour. Queen Victoria was still on the British throne. Okawa lived through 20 United States Presidents, and William McKinley was the president when she was born. The United States Post Office authorized the use of post cards the year Okawa was born. She was five years old when the Wright brothers tried out their airplane. She was a teenager during World War I, and when the Titanic sank. Okawa was in her 70s when the first man landed on the moon.
Okawa assumed the title of the oldest person in the world after the death of 116-year-old Jireomon Kimura from Japan in June 2013. Both of these super-centenarians were from a place where there were 282 other super-centenarians and 54,397 centenarians.
The title of the world oldest person now belongs to a citizen of the United States. Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas is a super-centenarian. The Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group has recorded her age as 116 years old. The Guinness World Records lists the oldest person who ever lived was Jeanne Louise Calment from France, who died at age 122 on August 4, 1997.
[Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images]