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Edna Palmer, 115 years!

de (5-5-2008)
Edna ParkerEdna Parker

Scientists have long been baffled as to why some people live so much longer than others. Current estimates put the figure of total centenarians worldwide at about 488,000. Exact numbers may be difficult to determine, since many centenarians live in developing or outlying areas, where census data is not often available. However the numbers of centenarians in industrialized nations are still rather impressive. There are approximately 79,000 Americans who hold the distinction of being centenarians, a group now believed to be the fastest growing group of Americans. Some of them are well known because of their celebrity. Others are ordinary people who have lived extraordinarily long lives. Each of them is a page of history. According to the statistics, in Romania are almost 9,800 people who reached the age of 100 or more.
About two years ago, I wrote an article about Gheorghe Onita, a Romanian centenarian who lived in Arizona. He passed away shortly after he turned 100. I remember myself doing a lot of research on the topic of longevity at that time. Mr. Onita held the record as the oldest Romanian here in Arizona.
Now at 115 years old, Edna Palmer of Shelbyville, Indiana, holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest living person. Fifteen years older than our conational. Palmer turned 115 on Sunday, April 20, 2008. Edna was born on April 20, 1893. Her husband, Earl, died in 1938 and Palmer lived alone in their farmhouse until 1993. She then moved in with her son’s family, and when they found that she was in need of more care, she moved into a convalescent home.
Maybe it was a lifetime of chores on the family farm that accounts for Edna Palmer’s long life. Or maybe just good genes explain why the world’s oldest known person that turned 115 on last Sunday, defying staggering odds. Scientists who study longevity hope Parker and others who live to 110 or beyond — they’re called super centenarians — can help solve the mystery of extreme longevity. Scientists from the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University collected samples of DNA to add to the database of super centenarians. Her genes, along with about 100 other people who lived over 110 years, will be analyzed by aging specialists. They are looking for longevity enabling genes. Social factors largely explain differences in life expectancies both between countries and between different groups of population in each country. Convincing evidence shows that, individual lifestyles, social networks, styles of relating to life, and in particular, social class, are major determinants of the life-span. Does this principle apply to anybody? Let’s take a look at my subject centenarians. From at least one perspective, there is a difference between the two. Edna Parker was born in the United States and has lived in a free country her entire life. On the other hand, Gheorghe Onita, being born in Romania, went through two world wars, three dictatorships, three social orders. He served seven years in the Romanian army. He endured so much hunger and thirst in the wars and the life he lived was generally not very easy. He came to United States when he was 80. The first nine years, he lived in Chicago then he moved to Grand Canyon State. At that time, most of his fellows could be seen just in the memories. Moreover, he didn’t come here to die but to live healthy for other two decades. Ignoring the age, after he turned 100, he was able to read the Bible without glasses. Everybody who knew him was impressed of his vitality. He confessed me in an interview that when he lived in Romania he wouldn’t believe that there is a place in the world where is always summer. He loved Arizona. The environment played an important role in his well-being.
Last Friday, Edna Palmer laughed and smiled as relative and guests released 115 balloons into sunny skies outside her nursing home in Indiana. “We don’t know why she’s lived so long,” said Don Palmer, her 59-year-old grandson. „But she’s never been a worrier and she’s always been a thin person, so maybe that has something to do with it.”
Like Gheorghe Onita, Edna Palmer never drank alcohol or tried tobacco and led an active life. It lessens feelings of depression that might otherwise lower immunity and boost heart disease risk
In conclusion, what could be the real reason for increased longevity?
Lifestyle, DNA or is it God? That’s a question the experts have been eager to find an answer to.

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