“We’re all going to die. Some people are scared of dying. Never be afraid to die. Because you’re born to die.” — Walter Breuning
The world’s oldest man passed away this past Thursday, April 14th, due to natural causes at the age of 114. Over the course of Walter Breuning’s long life, he experienced the sweeping changes of three centuries. From a childhood without electricity to the rise of radio, through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and everyday since, Breuning maintained a healthy regimen of eating less, working more, and taking care of others, crediting this behavior with keeping him youthful. Over the years, Walter generated a lot of wise remarks, many of which we’ve shared with you before. While his death represents a great loss for the world, we can rest easier knowing this: with the steady march of science, and a little help from Walter’s wisdom, we may all be on the path to become supercentenarians.
“Everybody says your mind is the most important thing about your body. Your mind and your body. You keep both busy, and by God you’ll be here a long time.” —Walter Breuning
Perhaps unsurprising for a man who spent 50 years working for the railroad, Breuning was happy with the steady improvements in life brought on by modern technology. When it came to medical technology, however, he wasn’t in much need. The director of the Rainbow Senior Living retirement home where he was living in Great Falls Montana told the Associated Press Walter never took anything more than aspirin. Maybe Breuning’s two meal a day diet, his active life, and his strong social bonds were enough to sustain him – these same general trends are found among many centenarians around the world. Yet the rest of us may need a bit of boost. Thankfully we live in a world where regenerative medicine continues to have great success from stem cell treatments to growing organs in labs to genetic therapies for major diseases. These technologies will help us sustain our current biology, repairing or replacing parts as they wear out. One day we’ll move on from simply sustaining our bodies to openly improving upon them as well. That upcoming change may seem daunting, but Walter’s words of wisdom are here to quell our fears:
“I think every change that we’ve ever made, ever since I was a child — 100 years — every change has been good for the people…My God, we used to have to write with pen and ink, you know, (for) everything. When the machines came, it just made life so much easier.”
*Note: With Walter’s passing, the oldest living man is Jiroemon Kimura of Japan. The oldest living person is still Besse Cooper of the United States who was born almost a month before Walter Breuning.
[screen capture: Integral Senior]
[image credit: Mike Albans/Associated Press]
[sources: Associated Press]