The conversations of life

What’s the secret to living longer according to centenarians? Coffee, bacon, no men …


The US’ oldest man and veteran Richard Overton, who celebrated his 112th birthday last week, says he’s still in fighting form with “no pains, no aches”.

Richard Overton and his daily cigar habit

His ‘secret’?

Early wake-ups, cigars (he sometimes has more than 12 a day), multiple cups of coffee and Dr. Pepper and a little whiskey in the evening, which he says is “good medicine”.

Not what you’d expect – but he’s not the first centenarian to pass on questionable advice for a long life.

These are our favourites:

Scotland’s oldest woman Jessie Gallan, 109, told the Daily Mail in 2015 that her secret was staying away from men – “They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.” She also advised plenty of porridge (a typical Scot then).

Earlier this year US woman Eunice Modlin, 102, claimed the key to her longevity was two squares of dark chocolate every day. She also never drank or smoked which experts say may have helped (we’d like to think it was the chocolate).

American woman Ruth Benjamin credited four strips of bacon, plus eggs and grits, for her breakfast as her reason for reaching 109 last year.

We could certainly take that over Italian woman Emma Morano’s advice. She passed away aged 117 last year after a lifetime of three eggs every day – two raw.

Still, the best suggestion comes from Mr Overton: “Don’t die”.

That would definitely help.

With a background in nursing, Annie has spent over 20 years working in the health industry, including the coordination of medical support for international TV productions and major stadium events, plus education campaigns with a number of national health organisations. In recent years, she has also taken time out of the workforce to be a full-time carer, giving her first-hand experience of the challenges and rewards of this role.

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