The World’s Oldest Person: 5 Fast Facts You Should Know

Emma Morano pictured here celebrating her 117th birthday. She has outlived all of her immediate family and is cared for by a close circle of friends and relatives. Credit: Youtube / 5 News / Video Screen Grab

Verbania, Italy — In May 2016, Guinness World Records confirmed her as the oldest living person, and on Tuesday, November 29, 2016, she turned 117. Her name is Emma Morano, she lives in Italy, and she is the last person alive who was born in the 1800s (1899 to be exact).

At her birthday celebration, Mrs. Morano blew out the candles on her birthday cake, opened presents, and spent time with her many guests as journalists, photographers, friends, relatives, and researchers crowded into her apartment.

Here are 5 Fast Facts about the oldest person in the world:

1She’s Very Happy

Emma Moran is 117. Her doctor says she’s happy to have lived so long. Credit: Guinness World Records

Morano’s niece is Maria Antonietta Sala, whose mother was Emma’s sister who died at age 102. At the birthday celebration Sala told reporters, “She’s very, very happy.” Morano’s doctor for the past 20 years, Dr. Carlo Bava, agrees…

“She’s happy to have made it to this birthday,” he notes. “She was very happy and honoured to get a telegram of congratulations this morning from [Italian] President [Sergio] Mattarella.”

Dr. Bava adds that he thinks Ms. Morano has lived such a long life because she has been cared for and about by loved ones. “The secret is in growing old with people who love you,” Dr. Bava concludes, “which is different from growing old and being put up with.”

2She Has Been Single for 80 Years

Morano has lived for decades in the same home in northern Italy. Credit: Youtube / 5 News / Video Screen Grab

Morano, who has been single since the late 1930s, attributes her long life to not being “dominated” by anyone. According to Dr. Bava,

“What might be more important [as a factor in Morano’s longevity] is that she has always had a very strong strong character. It has always been her who decides what she does or doesn’t do.”

Following the death of her fiancee in World War One, she married. But that union was unhappy — her husband was physically abusive. She left him in 1938 after the death of an infant son, and she has lived on her own ever since. She attributes her longevity, in part, to the decision to separate from her husband, even though in the 1930s separations were rare and divorce wasn’t legal in Italy for another three decades. Many men wanted to marry her after that, but she chose to remain single. She says,

“I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,”

3Most Doctors Would Not Recommend Her Diet

Morano eats three eggs almost every day; she likes them raw. Credit: Wikimedia Commons, GFDL

In her teens she was sickly and anemic, so her doctor at the time recommended raw eggs to cure her anemia. Since that time she has consumed three eggs per day. While most modern health experts would consider the heightened cholesterol caused by egg yolks to be a health disaster, Morano considers the eggs to be her “elixir for longevity.”

Dr. Bava explains her diet this way:

“When I first knew her, she used to eat three eggs a day. Two raw and one fried. Today she has slowed down a bit, reducing the number to two some days because she says three can be too much.”

Bava continues,

“She has never eaten much fruit or vegetables. Her characteristic is that she always eats the same thing, every day, every week, every month and every year.”

However, Bava concedes,

“The diet she has had would have destroyed the liver of most people. But with Emma, I think she could even eaten pebbles and she would still have lived a very long time.”

4She Lives a Simple Life

Morano lives in Italy’s picturesque Piedmont region, in Verbania, a town on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Alessandro Vecchi

Morano lives a very simple life in the Pallanza neighborhood of Verbania. Pallanza is a lovely little Italian town on Lake Maggiore, in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. She doesn’t have an active social life because all of her siblings and contemporaries are dead. Rosi Santoni, 72, a relative who helps care for Morano, reported,

“Her friends are all in the cemetery, sadly.”

Morano lives in a tiny two-room apartment, the walls of which are covered with religious items, such as the image of a  Madonna and child. She has lived there for decades. She hasn’t left the premises for twenty years, and she has cared for herself during most of that time, only taking on a full-time caretaker last year.

5Her Mind Is Still Sharp

Last May, Emma Morano received official certification of being the world’s oldest person from Guinness World Records. Credit: Guinness World Records

Dr. Bava reports that Morano’s mind and memory are sharp, in spite of her age. “She is very lucid, very present,” Bava says. She spoke with guests at her birthday party, and she told members of the press,

“People come. I don’t invite anybody, but they come. From America, Switzerland, Austria, Turin, Milan. . . . They come from all over to see me.”

Nevertheless, Morano speaks with difficulty. She is also almost completely deaf. And her vision is not good enough for her to watch television. Speaking of Emma’s achievement, Marco Frigatti, Head of Records for Guinness World Records, said,

“The oldest living person record category continues to capture the world’s collective imagination. Ms Morano has experienced things first hand that will soon be consigned to memory, and the record books. She can teach us all a lesson of the value of a life well lived.”

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