The oldest age to which any person on documents has lived was a French woman, Madam Jeanne Calment, who was born in the small ancient Roman town of Arles in France on February 21, 1875 and died August 4, 1997 at age 122 years, 164 days. Jeanne Calment lived for 44724 days and she had the longest confirmed human life span ever. She sold colored pencil and canvas to Vincent van Gogh and saw the construction of Eifel Tower and both World Wars.
Genetics plays a moderate role in determining a person’s longevity. The rest depends on the environment, nutrition, and staying away from stress!
This video is taken when Jeanne was 119 years old. she talked about Vincent van Gogh and when he came into her uncle’s shop in 1888 (when she was 13) to buy canvas. She described him as “Dirty, alcoholic, badly dressed and disagreeable”
In 1965, at the age of 90, two years after her grandson’s death following an accident, Calment signed a contract to sell her apartment at the time of her death to a lawyer, François Raffray. In exchange Mr Raffray, who was 47 at the time, would pay her a monthly figure until she died. Having paid twice the apartments value, Mr Raffray died because of cancer at the age of 77 in 1995. His family continued to make payments to Ms Calment following his death. Raffray ended up paying Calment the equivalent of more than $180,000, which was more than double the apartment’s value. During all these years, Calment used to say to them that she “competed with Methuselah”.
Ms Calment led an extraordinary life and can be regarded as a phenomenon. In addition to her lifespan, other impressive feats included taking up fencing at the age of 85, continuing to ride her bike at the age of 100 and living by herself until the age of 110 (1985).
She was still in good shape, and was able to walk until a fall at age 114. This is her doctor’s statement about her health when she was 114: “Present health status and medical history of Jeanne Calment”. B. Forette. The present physical health status of Jeanne Calment is not normal, it is very good, as indicated by all standard clinical parameters. Everyday functioning is surprisingly good as measured by ADLs (activities of daily living). The three principal difficulties with which she is confronted are bilateral cataracts, deafness and an environment which confines her to a chair. The medical history is astonishing by its absence, up until an elbow and hip fracture at the age of 114.
Madame Jeanne Calment began smoking when she married in 1896 at the age of 21. She smoked no more than 2 cigarettes per day. We do not know whether she inhaled nor do we know what brand she smoked. She quit smoking at about age 113-114 when she broke her hip. Surprisingly, she quit smoking not on health grounds, but because her eyesight was so poor that she was not able to light her cigarettes herself, and was too embarrassed to ask others to light them for her.
on her 120th birthday she said: “I see badly, I hear badly, I can’t feel anything, but everything’s fine.”
Although confined to a wheelchair, Ms Calment remained talkative and received visitors until her 122nd birthday. It was then decided that her health had deteriorated sufficiently to warrant privacy. Indeed, it was said by Jean-Marie Robine that this “allowed her to die”, as the attention had kept her alive. She died five months later.
Today, people are living longer. For example, in 1900 only 25% of U.S. population survived to age 65. Now almost 70% survive to this age. Currently about 30% attain age 80 and within a few years 50% will attain age 80. It is speculated that there no person attained the age of 100 before 1800 and no one lived to over 110 prior to 1950.
She attributed her long life to chocolate, olive oil and port wine, as well as what some referred to as an immunity to stress, having once stated:
“If you can’t do anything about it, don’t worry about it.” ~ Madam Calment