The oldest person living in America celebrated her birthday over the past weekend. Jeralean Talley of Inkster, Michigan, turned 115 years old this past Friday. As the oldest person in America, Talley is one of the last people on Earth to have seen three centuries. The 115-year-old woman was born in 1899, just 34 years after the end of the Civil War.
Talley still lives at home with her daughter, 76-year-old Thelma Holloway. She still walks with a walker, claiming that she likes to take care of herself. Talley even bowled until she was 104, according to the Detroit Free Press. She walks without assistance whenever possible and tries to be independent, which experts speculate could in fact be the key to her longevity.
Experts at Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology in Detroit say that the longest-living Americans have come from a large range of backgrounds. Some have smoked and drank, some have had extreme pain and poverty in their lives, and some have lived a healthy lifestyle. One commonality that is always noted, though, is how active a person’s lifestyle is. This is not in regard to the typical 30 minutes of exercise per day, but rather how often a person gets out and walks around, goes with friends, works on hobbies, etc.
Talley does not know what to say to people who want advice on how to live a long and healthy life, because she credits God, and not herself. She says “it is all in the good Lord’s hands,” and there is nothing she can do. Talley does, however, live by one simple life motto and rule. She insists that it is important to “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Having another birthday as the oldest person in America is certainly cause to celebrate. When asked what she would be doing over this past weekend to celebrate her milestone 115th birthday, Talley said that she planned to spend it at home with her family. She would also be going to the doctor for a check-up, although she did not feel sick. According to the Detroit Free Press, a church service, in part to honor her, was held at New Jerusalum Missionary Baptist Church in Inkster on Sunday. Talley surprised everyone there by casting aside her walker by handing it to a friend at the event and climbing 10 stairs to the waiting congregation at the church by using only the handrail there.
Talley celebrated her 115th birthday over the past weekend, which is indeed a milestone. She has, however, been the oldest person living in America for two years since she was 113. She is just the 31st person ever to turn 115, according to experts. According to the Gerontology Research Group, Talley, in addition to being the oldest person in America, is the second oldest person in the world, after a woman in Japan who has reached 116 years of age. The supercentenarian (which is a title reserved only for those aged 110 or older) is one of only 74 validated in the world. According to the Gerontology Research Group, only about 1 in every 5 million Americans will become old enough to earn a supercentenarian title. As the oldest person in America, Talley’s family spans over five generations. She recently did an interview with CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, which is set to air on TV this week.
By Laura Clark