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Centenarians: No secret to a long life

FAIRMONT – Imagine what you could experience if you lived to be 100 or more years old.

Five of the residents at Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center in Fairmont know firsthand. Five women at Lakeview happen to be at least 100 years old. From youngest to oldest, they are: Beatrice Hugoson (100), Lucille Neusch (100), Gretchen Miles (100), Evelyn Burmeister (101) and Nellie Oanes (102).

To think of all the wonderful things these women have seen in their extraordinary time since birth is astonishing.

They have lived through so many incredible events: Prohibition, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam and the Holocaust. They have seen the first man go to the moon, the establishment of the Civil Rights Act and 18 presidents. And this is just a short list of the numerous things they witnessed.

So, what is the trick or secret to living to be a centenarian? I asked these ladies what they thought.

Is it diet? None claim to have followed a special diet. Nellie said she does not eat bread unless she needs to. Evelyn said they ate “meat and potatoes.” Lucille said she ate what she liked.

What about exercise? Most of the women said they only did their farm chores, worked the fields and worked with animals on the farm.

A few claimed to have “good genes.”

“We had a mother that took great care of us,” Evelyn added.

So, apparently, there is not a trick or secret at all.

Centenarians make up 1 in 6,000 people. There are about 80,000 in the United States. About 0.01% of the U.S. population lives to be older than 100. Eighty-five percent of centenarians are women, and having more children increases longevity. Men who have daughters live longer than their counterparts with sons.

Regardless of the statistics, we at Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center feel tremendously fortunate to have shared part of these women’s substantial lives.

Kayla Green is a Registered Nurse at Lakeview Methodist Health Care Center in Fairmont.

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