Health, Lighter

Oldest Living Human Turns 115

Besse Cooper is the oldest person on earth. Last month, she turned 115 years old.

She was born on August 26, 1896… seven years before the invention of the airplane.

Cooper has held the title of “oldest person on earth” twice. She lost it once, when the Guinness Book of World Records discovered Maria Gomes Valentin in Brazil. She was about a month and a half older than Cooper.

Valentin passed away in June, and Cooper regained the title. The Gerontology Research Group and the Guinness Book of World Records each verified her age and her status as the world oldest living human.

Cooper’s son, Sidney, is 76 years old. He says his mom is in good physical health.

Besse Cooper lives in Georgia and worked as a teacher. She and her husband Luther (who died in 1963) had four children. Today, she has 12 grandchildren and more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

She celebrated her 115th birthday a bit more low-key than last year. Her party last year featured an Elvis impersonator.

As someone who is more than 110 years old, she can be referred to as a “supercentenarian.” She is one of just 23 people who have lived at least 115 years.

Cooper has said that her secret to living a long and happy life is to mind her own business, and avoid eating junk food.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Besse Cooper was born seven years before the airplane was invented.  What other inventions were created during her life? Brainstorm and/or research to make a list and share it with a partner.
How has the world changed since she was a child? Discuss how her childhood would have been different from yours.

Reading Prompt
Besse said that “her secret to living a long and happy life is to mind her own business, and avoid eating junk food.”  Do you think minding your own business would help you live longer? Why or why not? Do you have any other advice for people to help them live a long and healthy life?

Express personal thoughts and feelings about what has been read (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Age by decade
People’s ages are sometimes referred to by decade.  A decade spans 10 years.  For example, Besse Cooper is called a “supercentenarian” because she is older than 110.  Someone whose age is in the range 100 – 109 years is called a “centenarian.”
Fill in the information below to connect the terms with the ages:
Denarian: 10-19 years old
Vicenarian: 20-29 years old
Tricenarian: _____ years old
Quadragenarian: 40-49 years old
Quinquagenarian: ____ years old
Sexagenarian: _____ years old
Octogenarian: _____ years old
Nonagenarian: 90-99 years old
Centenarian: 100-109 years old
Supercentenarian: 110+ years old