Watching the world change in three centuries gives you a unique perspective on things. Walter Breuning turned 114 this fall, one of only a handful of people alive who were born in the 1800s. He remembers his grandfather discussing fighting in the civil war, the assassination of President McKinley, voting for Woodrow Wilson, and many other events that most of us have only read about in history books. Yet Breuning is anything but a relic. Still active and fit, he is the world's oldest man but has the energy of people twenty to thirty years younger. In the video from CBS news below you can see Breuning riding his scooter with little care for caution. On the occasion of his 114th birthday (September 21, 2010) Breuning gave a wonderful interview, sharing the insights he's acquired over his long stay on Earth. Watch it in the second video below. Don't miss his secrets for longevity (3:49), or his prescription for success in the modern world (4:24): education and computer skills! Breuning's my kind of supercentenarian.
Steve Hartman from CBS News sat down with Walter Breuning in the spring of 2009.
More than a year later, Breuning was still alert and vital, sharing his thoughts with the world. This interview was arranged by Integral Senior, a retirement community company, and used questions suggested by internet users all over the globe.
Breuning's story truly is remarkable. Not only has he survived to become the world's oldest man, he's done so with most of his physical and mental faculties intact. That's rare for most of us, but fairly common for many centenarians. The same factors that allow you to live past 100 tend to keep you more youthful as well.
In the not so distant future living as long as Breuning won't be such an oddity. The number of centenarians and supercentenarians is expected to rise in the decades ahead due to a combination of increased population and improved healthcare. The first wave of baby-boomers have hit 65, and by the time they reach their mid-eighties we should have made enough progress in regenerative medicine to keep them going longer and stronger than ever before. Technologies like stem cell transplants and in situ organ generation will allow us to repair or replace the parts of the body as they fail. There are still many hurdles to expanded longevity, but that goal seems closer than ever before. Looking at Breuning it also seems much more desirable. I hope I'm as fun and wise when I reach 114.
[image credit: Fred Pfeiffer via Wikicommons]