The wide-ranging discussion touched on many topics, including LQ’s recent visit to the home of María Branyas Morera, the superlongevity field, and aging in general. Listen to the full interview below:
LongeviQuest has announced a Mutual Recognition and Partnership Agreement with the European Supercentenarian Organisation (ESO).
LongeviQuest CEO Ben Meyers announced the agreement with the following statement:
“I am happy to share with you that the European Supercentenarian Organisation (ESO) and LongeviQuest (LQ) have reached a formal agreement on mutual recognition and partnership. Moving forward, we each recognize the legitimacy of each other’s research and consider each other Accredited Partner Organisations.
This agreement follows months of dialogue between me and the co-founders of ESO – Dr. Andrew Holmes, Chris Law, and Marco Wikkerink – as well as discussions between the three of them and ESO’s family of correspondents. The result is an agreement which grants ESO equal stature to LQ Subsidiaries for research and validation purposes. That means a few things, including:
· Immediately, LQ recognizes 885 cases validated by ESO. These cases were compiled by ESO leadership and reviewed by the LQ Research Leadership Team. Because it will take some time to input all of these into the LQ Directory, we will soon share the list separately to confirm our recognition of these cases. Additionally, ESO recognizes all LQ validations.
· ESO will now be represented on the Global Validation Commission. The ESO Commissioner will have equal voting power to the Commissioners representing LQ Subsidiaries. They will vote on validations, including those sourced from LQ, and will also be empowered to enforce (and refine) validation standards and procedures.
· Validations sourced from ESO will have Accredited Status, giving them the “benefit of the doubt” and requiring a higher threshold for rejection by the Global Validation Commission. For validation approval purposes, ESO cases and LQ cases will be treated the same.
It is important to note that this is a partnership, not a merger. The mutual recognition agreement only covers future cases which are submitted to the Global Validation Commission, but no ESO researcher will ever be compelled to submit cases to LQ. This agreement represents collaboration in the purest sense, enabling us to achieve together even more than we have already achieved apart.
You will hear more from the leadership of both ESO and LQ in the coming days. This is an exciting time for our field!”
LongeviQuest has confirmed that Marita Camacho Quirós, former First Lady of Costa Rica, has reached the age of 112. Sra. Camacho Quirós is the oldest verified living person in Costa Rica, as well as the longest-living First Lady (or Presidential Spouse) of any nation in world history.
Sra. Camacho Quirós was the First Lady of Costa Rica during the Presidency of her husband, Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich, from 1962 to 1966. During her time as First Lady, Sra. Camacho Quirós traveled extensively and met with notable historical figures such as Pope John XXIII, Francisco Franco, and U.S. Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Sra. Camacho Quirós also used her time as First Lady to advocate for the poor, specifically focusing on projects to provide housing to those without permanent homes.
Sra. Camacho Quirós has lived in Costa Rica for her entire life. She was widowed in 1969, but today enjoys the frequent company of many close family members including multiple great-grandchildren.
One of the few supercentenarians known for reasons other than longevity, her status as a supercentenarian was formally documented by Latin American Supercentenarians based on the research of Fabrizio Villatoro, who now leads LongeviQuest’s research activities in Latin America.
LongeviQuest has validated the age claim for Mary Maiurino (1907-2019) of the U.S. state of New York. Mrs. Maiurino was born in Syracuse, New York in 1907 and passed away in nearby Fayetteville, New York in 2019 at the age of 112. The daughter of Italian immigrants (birth surname Giannuzzi), Mrs. Maiurino was married in 1934 to Anthony Maiurino, with whom she had two children.
Note: claimed date of birth 28 October 1907; validated with the date of birth 24 October 1907.
Creativity in adapting to the limitations that aging can bring is an essential part of maintaining resilience and productivity over time. Henri Matisse (1869-1954), a French painter and leading artist of the early twentieth century, provides an example of creative adaptation. Throughout most of his career, Matisse sculpted and painted large canvases with vibrant colors and wild brushstrokes, becoming a leader in the Fauvism movement of the early 20th century. In his 70’s, he was confined to a wheelchair after surgery for duodenal cancer that left him unable to paint or sculpt. Because of these limitations, he developed a new method of producing art, by cutting shapes from colored paper and having assistants arrange them on a canvas, something that he was able to do while seated. This “cut-out” art ultimately became some of his most acclaimed work.
According to Nick Riggle, a professor of philosophy and author of “This Beauty: The Philosophy of Being Alive”, Matisse viewed this time as the “culmination of his artistic life” and quotes Matisse as saying, “Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.” In Riggle’s essay for the New York Times, he discusses accepting changes that come with aging and disability in the context of radical openness and acceptance. He describes the lesson of Matisse as what we can learn when we “practice a radical aesthetic openness to our bodies, to what they can do and produce as time and chance inevitably transform us.”
Instead of viewing older age as a time of decline and regression, Dr. Gene Cohen, a pioneering psychiatrist in geriatric mental health, established that creativity is both an essential component of healthy aging and a quality that can increase with age. Dr. Cohen cites evidence that creative expression and engagement in artistic pursuits benefit health by giving the individual a sense of mastery, boosting the immune system, increasing social engagement, and promoting brain plasticity.
According to Dr. Cohen, during later life, people can experience a greater sense of freedom that allows for increased experimentation and creativity. He cites the choreographer Martha Graham, the poet William Carlos Williams, and artist Elizabeth Layton, who all reached creative peaks after age 65. Notably, Williams published his 1962 work Pictures from Brueghel and Other Collected Poems, ten years after he suffered a series of strokes and was hospitalized for severe depression. Writing poetry helped alleviate Williams’ depression and the resulting book of poetry ultimately won a Pulitzer Prize. Cohen quotes Williams as describing the period as “old age that adds as it takes away”. For Williams, he found creative productivity despite aging and disability.
Advanced age can allow for an increased capacity for creativity and adaptation to obstacles, along with greater opportunities to pursue creative passions. Creativity is a quality that can promote healthy, happier aging. Longeviquest profiles verified supercentenarians who exhibit examples of flourishing creative pursuits in older age:
- Chiyo Miyako: originally from the Wakayama Prefecture in Japan, Miyako lived until 117 years old. At age 114, she was still engaged in her long-term hobbies of calligraphy and writing haiku.
- Jeralean Talley: born in Georgia, Talley lived until 116 years old and was the oldest person in the world when she died. She enjoyed bowling and continued to do so until age 104, when her legs became too weak. Undeterred by this change, she instead took up fishing with a friend to replace her former hobby.
Cohen, Gene D. “Research on Creativity and Aging: The Positive Impact of the Arts on Health and Illness.” Aging and the Arts, (2006). Accessed March 7, 2023. http://www.cas.miamioh.edu/oma1/OMARoot/Research/Cohen_2006.pdf.
Riggle, Nick. “How Henri Matisse (and I) Got a ‘Beautiful Body’.” New York Times, December 25, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/25/opinion/matisse-disability-beauty-body.html.
In February 2023, LongeviQuest received the documentation for Mathew Beard, an American supercentenarian whose age was verified by the Kestenbaum study, and validated by the Gerontology Research Group in 2003.
Beard claimed to have been born in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, on 9 July 1870. With the final age of 114 years, 222 days, he was believed to have been the oldest living person in the world from the death of Emma Wilson on 13 October 1983, until his own death over a year later, on 16 February 1985. He was posthumously validated as the oldest person ever, a title he held between April 1984, until his age was surpassed by Augusta Holtz in 1986. Following his validation, he was also recognized as the first person to reach the age of 114, and the oldest African-American man ever, and currently, the fourth-oldest validated man in history.
After reviewing the documentation submitted by an independent researcher, Jimmy Lindberg, the Global Validation Commission concluded that the validation was inaccurate.
Beard, who got married in 1912, spent most of his life in the U.S. state of Florida. Multiple census records have been located, including Florida State census records from 1935 and 1945 respectively. While the 1920 census entry – the first census record following his marriage, has not been located, the 1930 one was, supporting he was living in Sumter, Florida with his wife and ten children. The entry lists his age as “60” as of April 1930, which is approximately in accordance with his claimed age. Some of the later records also support the claimed age, however, one of the first noticeable deviations is his birthplace was never listed as Virginia, his claimed state of birth. The state of birth varied from Florida, Georgia and North Carolina during the years.
Among the located documentation was the Social Security Application (SSA) in which his parents were reported as “Ned Beard” (“Ned” likely being a nickname for “Edward”) and “Martha Bures.” His birthplace is listed as North Fork in Smyth County, Virginia, not the city of Norfolk. With the basic information from the SSA and newspaper articles, Lindberg was able to locate a possible 1900 US census record entry. Beard, who is listed as having been born in October 1886, was living in Columbia (Georgia) with his parents, Edward and Martha Beard, and five siblings. His birthplace is listed as Georgia, the state that was mentioned as his birthplace in the 1945 Florida State census entry. The 1880 US Census for the same family shows that they were living in Columbia and had two children at the time, Nettie (3 years old) and Jeremiah (3 months old). There is no child named Mathew listed.
It is thought that a wrong 1880 census record was used in the original validation from 2003. A 12-year-old boy named Mathew Baird lived in Milan, Gibson County, Tennessee in June 1880. He lived with his parents, Anderson and Martha Baird. The mother’s name matches with the one from the supercentenarian claimant’s SSA, and perhaps it was assumed that “Ned” was a peculiar nickname for “Anderson”. The 1870 US Census Record for the same family shows Mathew (listed as “Mathis Baird”) living in Carroll County, Tennessee. His age, however, is recorded as “4” on 24 June 1870, so was this the supercentenarian claimant who died in 1985, he would have been 119 rather than 114. Lindberg however located additional evidence supporting these records do not belong to the claimant, since the mother’s maiden name was Bryant, not Bures, and the father was never listed as “Ned.”
Statewide registration of births in Georgia began in 1919, therefore it’s highly unlikely a birth registration can be located. However, considering how the earliest located record dates to 16 June 1900, and since Beard was listed as having been born in October 1886 (therefore 13 years old at the time), it’s safe to assume he was nowhere near his claimed age of 114. Based on the located evidence, it’s more likely he was 98 at the time of death in February 1985.
In conclusion, LongeviQuest no longer recognizes the case as Validated, and is therefore changing the validation status from “Validated” to “Devalidated.” Though his supercentenarian status was effectively debunked, no precise date of birth could be determined.
The LongeviQuest team paid a visit to Sra. María Branyas Morera on the day before her 116th birthday, on 3 March 2023. We met with her and her family at the town of Olot in the autonomous community of Catalonia.
The CEO and director of LongeviQuest; Mr. Ben Meyers, the commissioner and director of America; Mr. Fabrizio Villatoro, and the main researcher for Spain; Mr. Eduardo Garcia, visited Mrs. Branyas Morera on behalf of the organization.
Branyas Morera’s relatives were very kind, cooperative and very enthusiastic and happy to receive us very early in the morning at the nursing home in Olot, Girona, where Maria lives. During the visit, LongeviQuest congratulated her and gave her some gifts for her very good-long life and her interesting feat of reaching the age of 116, a cake of delicious red fruits, the printing of birthday wishes, drawings and letters that the fans and researchers worldwide who appreciate her, Maria thanked and was happy to read the birthday cards, thank you very much to those who participated. Maria Branyas also enjoyed the official LongeviQuest trophy recognizing her as the “world’s oldest living person”.
Branyas Morera’s state of health was very good during the visit. Although her hearing was a bit weak, she keeps up with her own lucidity, Maria Branyas always cared very much about the young people and the elderly, she has always been expressing love to her family and those around her, and which, many people are witnesses.
Maria retains lucidity, she’s very active from early in the morning, and can stand up a bit. Mr. Villatoro spoke in front of her and told her: “I came from Mexico to Spain just to meet you”, she was smiling and looking him directly at the eyes, then quickly replied: “Mexico was a beautiful and nice place to me, I was on a boat there when I was a girl, thank you very much for visiting me”. Maria, very calm, but aware, attentive and very affectionate, told us about her youth, she loved meeting us and was surprised because LongeviQuest team went to Olot, Catalonia, Spain just to meet her. Her 78-year-old daughter, Rosa, watches over her health and well-being, and she received us along with her husband at her residence.
Mr. Garcia is our LQ-Spain researcher with over 10 years of experience in the field and who has tracked over 500 centenarians in Spain. According Mr. Garcia: “Her longevity is exceptional, celebrating 116 years-old is a hard age to reach, but being aware, talkative, able to stand up a bit and remembering many things from her youth is something even more special among those who reach over age 115 in the world”.
It was a pleasant visit for the LongeviQuest team, and this is why, the LongeviQuest team deeply thanks the family for giving us the permission, privilege and honor to visit her. We also appreciate and thank our dear photographer Thomas Williams for the beautiful photos.
Here are some pictures of the celebration.
Click on each photo to enlarge.