When it comes to knowing the secret to a long life, who better to talk to than a centenarian? Some say it all comes down to eating healthy or exercising daily and others say they’ve just been blessed with good genes. There was even one woman named Susannah Mushatt Jones who claimed eating bacon was the reason she reached 116-years-old.
In 2015, Holiday Retirement commissioned a national survey of American centenarians – real people who have lived for 100 or more years. It included questions about what it takes to live a long and meaningful life. In short, the secrets included spending time with family, saving money early on, working out your problems instead of running from them, and being active.
Possibly the most unconventional response we’ve ever heard came from Scotland’s 109-year-old Jessie Gallan.
Gallan was born on a farm in Kintore, Scotland in 1906 to a family with five sisters and one brother. In a tiny two-room cottage, all seven of them would sleep together on a straw-filled mattress. Although she attended school for a while, she left to work in a farm kitchen and then a housemaid in the city for a wealthy businessman. This was followed by a career in the service industry in both the city and countryside.
Eventually, Gallan moved into the Crosby House, a residential care home for seniors. Gillian Bennett, one of her support workers at the time told STV: “Jessie is a lovely woman. She has got her best friend here, Sarah Jane, and they are always together. She likes her music and likes her exercise class and is a very independent person. She is always walking about.”
Judging by Bennett’s kind words, Gallan sounds like she would also credit being active and staying social to living as long as she did. However, although she died in March 2015, her secret to a long life is unlike any we’ve heard!
“My secret to a long life has been staying away from men,” said Gallan. “They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.”
Although we can hear a resounding AMEN coming from other women around the world, Gallan’s secret does have a dietary component…
I like my porridge. I have all my life.”
While Jessie Gallan didn’t specifically mention any of the survey points above, she lived them out… From staying social to being active, maybe staying away from men was the unspoken cherry on top that kept her going for so long!
We’re not saying stay away from marriage if you want to live long. Rather, we’re highlighting the fact that a combination of healthy (and sometimes unconventional) habits and life choices can help increase your lifespan… potentially even into your hundreds!