While there’s no single secret to achieving a long life span, academic researchers have identified several factors that tend to be present among the oldest living people.
Those include, according to Iowa State gerontology researcher Peter Martin:
- Environmental support: assistance (including financial) from family members, the community or care facilities
- Individual characteristics: gender, ethnic background, personality traits
- Behavioral skills: being active, keeping mentally engaged
- Good nutrition and health behaviors: “You are what you eat,” as mom says.
- Staying healthy: maintaining physical fitness
- Good mental health: people who are very old tend to be optimistic
According to the 2010 Cayman Islands census, there were 11 people in Cayman over the age of 97. Statistically, Cayman has about the expected number of very old people as are found in first-world countries such as the U.K. and U.S., where the prevalence rate of centenarians is about 0.02 percent of the population.
The proportion of centenarians among the global population is much lower, at about 0.005 percent.
Looking at “supercentenarians,” people who live past their 110th birthday, the vast majority of these “oldest of the old” are concentrated in a handful of countries, such as Japan, the U.S. and Italy.
Of the 40 oldest people in the world, more than half are living in Japan, including the world’s oldest person, Nabi Tajima, who is 117 years old. Born on Aug. 4, 1900, she is the last surviving person to have been born in the 19th century.
On the list, maintained by the Gerontology Research Group, 39 of the 40 oldest people are women. The world’s oldest man is Masazou Nonaka of Japan, who at 112 years old, ranks number 29 overall.
Until her death on Sept. 15, 2017, at the age of 117, the world’s oldest person had been Violet Brown of Jamaica. She was the fifth-oldest person in recorded history.
The verified oldest person in the world, ever, was Jeanne Calment of France, who died in August 1997 at the age of 122.