African American News and Genealogy

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Monday, February 28, 2005

Gerontology sleuths search for 'supercentenarians'

Monday, February 28, 2005 By Jeffrey Zaslow, The Wall Street Journal SEAL BEACH, Calif. -- Marion Higgins can recite the alphabet backwards, a skill she says her father taught her in the 1890s. She clearly recalls her first train trip, which she dates to 1895, and her first barnstorming airplane ride in 1923. Her memories are marvelous, but can she prove she's really 111 years 244 days old? It turns out she can, which for investigators at the nonprofit Gerontology Research Group makes her a real find _ what they call "a validated supercentenarian." To join this club, one must be 110 or older. As of today, there are 61 documented living members in the world. GRG's 40 volunteers _ a loose, international network of demographers, gerontologists, epidemiologists and self-styled "hobbyists" _ are dedicated to verifying the ages of the world's oldest people, and to learning the secrets of their longevity. But to do so, they must contend with dishonest schemers, governments that gleefully support false claims and what researchers call "the invisible barrier of 115." Full Story:


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