How to Live Past 100

Alternative headline to please my grandparents: Worlds Oldest Antisemite Dies

World’s Oldest Man Dies at 114

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Walter Breuning’s earliest memories stretched back 111 years, before home entertainment came with a twist of the radio dial. They were of his grandfather’s tales of killing Southerners in the Civil War.

Breuning was 3 and horrified: “I thought that was a hell of a thing to say.”

But the stories stuck, becoming the first building blocks into what would develop into a deceptively simple philosophy that Breuning, the world’s oldest man at 114 before he died Thursday, credited to his longevity.

Here’s the world’s oldest man’s secret to a long life:
— Embrace change, even when the change slaps you in the face. (“Every change is good.”)
— Eat two meals a day (“That’s all you need.”)
— Work as long as you can (“That money’s going to come in handy.”)
— Help others (“The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.”)

Then there’s the hardest part. It’s a lesson Breuning said he learned from his grandfather: Accept death.

“We’re going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die,” he said.

Breuning died of natural causes in a Great Falls hospital where he had been a patient for much of April with an undisclosed illness, said Stacia Kirby, spokeswoman for the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where Breuning lived.

He was the oldest man in the world and the second-oldest person, according to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group. Besse Cooper of Monroe, Ga. — born 26 days earlier — is the world’s oldest person.

So some Buddhist teachings (embrace death), some scientific low caloric intake advice (eat only two meals a day), some statistically accurate link between working and longevity. All good. Now the part buried in the article:

“The man who otherwise preached kindness and service to others acknowledged that he had mixed feelings about the war and the Nazis. He expressed some sympathy toward Hitler.”

So, maybe add one more thing to living old: find a group to dehumanize.

Also, Breuning never had kids. Hmmm.

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  • Laurel Lee  On April 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    And, (to late to ask him), “how many stairs did he climb every day?” I swear it keeps you young, I’ve seen it first hand with my patients. I’ve even read (but not verified) that you live 6 seconds longer for every stair you climb. Think about that next time you take the elevator 🙂

  • Laurel Lee  On April 15, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    oops, must proofread: “too” not “to” 😉

  • ken  On April 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    That validates us living on the 4th floor with no elevator!
    And never say copy edit in blogging comments: you have exceeded the requirements by merely stringing words together into sentences (though your sentences are lovely).

  • Chris  On April 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Ok. Sold. I’m skipping the elevator from now on. But, if you do the math, there has to be a logical end point to the effect of stair-climbing…

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