Today, Susannah Mushatt Jones turned a whopping 116 years old. Two days ago, the Brooklynite had the honor of being awarded a Guinness World Record for being the oldest person alive. For some perspective, in 1899, the year Jones was born, President McKinley signed The Treaty of Paris, liberating Cuba from Spain.
According to TIME, the likelihood of becoming a relatively healthy supercentenarian (110 years old or older) is 1 in 5 million. Jones has been blind from glaucoma since the age of 100 and is almost deaf, but she’s kept an otherwise clean bill of health for years, never smoking or drinking a day in her life. “The supercentenarian, they not only delay disability toward the very end of their lives but also diseases," says Thomas Perls, a professor of medicine and the director of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston Medical Center. "In fact, they’re often functionally independent and disease-free, except for some things you can’t get away with like cataracts and osteoarthritis.”
According to Perls, “You have to have some relatively rare combinations of a whole bunch of genes, probably hundreds, that will help people age more slowly or protect people from age-related diseases.”
But what does Jones say her secret is? According to her, it's a combination of lots of sleep, love, positive energy...and bacon. Every morning, she has four strips of bacon with her eggs. And, according to a sign in her kitchen, “Bacon makes everything better.”
Jones grew up one of twelve children in a small town in Alabama, learning how to pick crops with her family before moving to New York and becoming a nanny. Although she had dreamed of becoming a teacher, she couldn’t afford the education in her youth. So, when she started earning a decent salary, Jones decided to give back and started a scholarship fund for African-American women to give them the chance to get a college education.
Until the age of 106, Jones had been an active member of Brooklyn's Vandalia Houses’ tenant patrol, where she’s lived for over three decades, and she has had the pleasant company of her 100 nieces and nephews.
And now, at 116, she remains grateful for the amount of time she's been given on earth and lets nothing get in her way of living.