24.7 C
Port Moresby
January 20, 2022
International Life

Tips from Spain’s centenarians on how to live to 100

Image: Maria Josefa Guillen, 103, poses for a portrait on the patio of her home in Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville, southern Spain, September 18, 2016. Guillen lives with her disabled son. She started working as a seamstress aged 12 and laughs when she recalls that the first item she had to sew was a ball gown. Guillen loves gazpacho Ð a traditional Spanish cold tomato and cucumber soup. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

By Andrea Comas

CANGAS DE ONIS, Spain (Reuters) – With more than 100,000 people aged 100 or over, Spain is the country with the greatest life expectancy after Japan, OECD data and the latest population census shows.

Over a year, Reuters photographer Andrea Comas interviewed and photographed Spaniards aged 100 or more across the country from the green-hilled northern region of Asturias to the Balearic island of Menorca.

Average life expectancy at birth in Spain is 83.2, according to the latest OECD statistics made available in 2013, just a shade below the 83.4 years on average a Japanese newborn can expect to live.

Most of the men and women Comas interviewed showed a zest for life and an interest in pastimes from amateur dramatics to playing the piano. Many also continued to carry out daily duties from farm work to caring for a disabled child.

Pedro Rodriguez, 106, plays the piano every day in the living room of his flat in Asturias, northern Spain, where he lives with his wife who is nearly 20 years younger than him. Their daughters visit them often.

“The nuns taught me how to play the piano as a child,” he said after giving a rendition of a Spanish waltz.

The majority of these elderly people were surrounded by family or had loved ones calling in on them daily showing how Spain continues to be a closely-knit society, where family ties are paramount.

Maria Josefa Guillen, 103, holds a picture of herself with her husband from when they were young, in her home in Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville, southern Spain, September 18, 2016. Guillen lives with her disabled son. She started working as a seamstress aged 12 and laughs when she recalls that the first item she had to sew was a ball gown. Guillen loves gazpacho Ð a traditional Spanish cold tomato and cucumber soup. REUTERS/Andrea ComasMaria Josefa Guillen, 103, laughs at her home in Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville, southern Spain, September 18, 2016. Guillen lives with her disabled son. She started working as a seamstress aged 12 and laughs when she recalls that the first item she had to sew was a ball gown. Guillen loves gazpacho Ð a traditional Spanish cold tomato and cucumber soup. REUTERS/Andrea ComasRafaela Pons, 102, poses for a portrait in the living room of her home in Ferreries, on the Balearic island of Menorca, Spain, August 10, 2016. Pons lives alone although her daughter visits her daily. She is a devoted supporter of Real Madrid soccer club and takes a spoonful of honey every day. REUTERS/Andrea ComasPilar Fernandez, 101, poses for a portrait in a garage of her home in Ambas, Asturias, northern Spain, October 18, 2016. Fernandez suffered hunger and hardship during the war years alongside her nine brothers and sisters. To avoid history repeating itself, she limited herself to just one child. "From pure fear, I didn't have anymore," says the sprightly woman who lives with her daughter's family and tends livestock and a vegetable garden.ÊREUTERS/Andrea ComasPilar Fernandez (2nd L), 101, poses for a portrait in the kitchen of her home with her daughter Pili (L), granddaughter Flori (R) and her great granddaughter Ana in Ambas, Asturias, northern Spain, October 18, 2016. Fernandez suffered hunger and hardship during the war years alongside her nine brothers and sisters. To avoid history repeating itself, she limited herself to just one child. "From pure fear, I didn't have anymore," says the sprightly woman who lives with her daughter's family and tends livestock and a vegetable garden.ÊREUTERS/Andrea ComasPedro Rodriguez, 106, plays piano at his home in Cangas de Onis, Asturias, in northern Spain, July 9, 2016. Rodriguez plays piano every day in the living room of the flat where he lives with his wife who is nearly 20 years younger than him. Their daughters visit them often. "The nuns taught me how to play the piano as a child," he says after giving a rendition ofÊa Spanish waltz. REUTERS/Andrea ComasPedro Rodriguez, 106, plays piano at home in Cangas de Onis, Asturias, in northern Spain, July 9, 2016. Rodriguez plays piano every day in the living room of the flat where he lives with his wife who is nearly 20 years younger than him. Their daughters visit them often. "The nuns taught me how to play the piano as a child," he says after giving a rendition ofÊa Spanish waltz. REUTERS/Andrea ComasEdelmira Abascal, 102, poses for a portrait in her room of a residential home for the elderly in Torrelaguna, outside Madrid, Spain, November 22, 2016. " (The famous American author) Ernest Hemingway used to say Ôthere goes the brunetteÕ when he saw me pass by in the street," she said. Abascal worked as a secretary for a Republican general during the Civil War and once it became clear the Republicans were losing the city of Madrid to Francisco Franco, she was put in a convoy fleeing Madrid for Barcelona. In the convoy was a truck full of explosives that were used to blow up four buildings in central Barcelona, she recalls. REUTERS/Andrea ComasEsperanza Fernandez, 103, holds a picture of herself and her daughters, when she was young, in the living room of her home in Salamanca, central Spain, October 21, 2016. Fernandez lives with her daughters. Two of her sisters lived past 100 and another is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. She remembers when an outbreak of influenza killed nearly half of her village as a child. Her father shut the family in their house and prevented anyone from entering. REUTERS/Andrea ComasGumersindo Cubo, 101, poses for a portrait with a picture of himself when he was young, in his home in Casavieja, Avila, near Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2016. Cubo puts his longevity down to a childhood spent in a house in the woods with his eight brothers and sisters, where his father was a park ranger. "It's from inhaling the pine resin from the woods where I lived as a child," he says, telling of how his mother would put a jar of the resin under the bed of the sick. REUTERS/Andrea ComasEsperanza Fernandez, 103, poses for a portrait in the living room of her home in Salamanca, central Spain, October 21, 2016. Fernandez lives with her daughters. Two of her sisters lived past 100 and another is about to celebrate her 100th birthday. She remembers when an outbreak of influenza killed nearly half of her village as a child. Her father shut the family in their house and prevented anyone from entering. REUTERS/Andrea ComasMaximino San Miguel, 102, holds a picture of himself when he was young as he poses for a portrait in a park near his home in Leon, northern Spain, September 3, 2016. San Miguel discovered his passion for amateur dramatics at the age of 80 and has participated in many local productions. He didnÕt go to school as a child because he was sent to work as a shepherd. He enjoys reading books about traditions. REUTERS/Andrea ComasLucia Manzano, 100, poses for a portrait in a residential home for the elderly in La Adrada, Avila, near Madrid, Spain, July 12, 2016. Manzano laughs as she recalls dressing up in the colours of the fallen Second Spanish Republic to taunt visiting authorities in her village during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. "The most important thing in life is to stay loyal to yourself," she said.ÊREUTERS/Andrea ComasEsperanza Alles, 100, holds a picture of herself and her husband from when she was young, in the living room of her home in Ferreries, on the Balearic island of Menorca, Spain, August 6, 2016. Alles lives with her daughter. She brightens when remembering her father taking her as a child to see the first airplane that flew over the island. She remembers seeing soldiers from both sides of SpainÕs Civil War in the mountains on the day the war ended in 1939.ÊREUTERS/Andrea ComasMaximino San Miguel, 102, poses for a portrait in a park near his home in Leon, northern Spain, September 3, 2016. San Miguel discovered his passion for amateur dramatics at the age of 80 and has participated in many local productions. He didnÕt go to school as a child because he was sent to work as a shepherd. He enjoys reading books about traditions. REUTERS/Andrea ComasEsperanza Alles (L), 100, poses for a portrait next to her daughter in the living room of her home in Ferreries, on the Balearic island of Menorca, Spain, August 6, 2016. Alles lives with her daughter. She brightens when remembering her father taking her as a child to see the first airplane that flew over the island. She remembers seeing soldiers from both sides of SpainÕs Civil War in the mountains on the day the war ended in 1939. REUTERS/Andrea ComasFrancisco Nunez, 112, poses for a portrait at his home in Bienvenida, Badajoz, southern Spain, December 11, 2016. Nunez lives with his octogenarian daughter. He says he doesn't like the pensioners' daycare centre because it's full of old people. REUTERS/Andrea ComasFrancisco Nunez, 112, poses for a portrait at his home in Bienvenida, Badajoz, southern Spain, December 11, 2016. Nunez lives with his octogenarian daughter. He says he doesn't like the pensioners' daycare centre because it's full of old people. REUTERS/Andrea ComasRafaela Pons, 102, poses for a portrait with a picture of herself when she was young, in the living room of her home in Ferreries, on the Balearic island of Menorca, Spain, August 10, 2016. Pons lives alone although her daughter visits her daily. She is a devoted supporter of Real Madrid soccer club and takes a spoonful of honey every day. REUTERS/Andrea Comas

CIVIL WAR

Francisco Nunez, 112, is the oldest person Comas interviewed. He lives with his octogenarian daughter in his house in Badajoz, south-western Spain. He says he doesn’t like the pensioners’ daycare center because it’s full of old people.

“He hasn’t had to leave his home. I’m single and I live here with him,” says daughter Maria Antonia Nunez, 81, as she adjusts his beret.

When questioned about their most vivid memories, many recall Spain’s 1936 to 1939 civil war which set neighbor against neighbor and resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths followed by the 36-year dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

Pilar Fernandez, 101, suffered hunger and hardship during the war years alongside her nine brothers and sisters. To avoid history repeating itself, she limited herself to one child.

“From pure fear, I didn’t have any more,” says the sprightly woman who lives with her daughter’s family in Asturias and tends livestock and a vegetable garden.

Tips for long life ranged from a spoonful of honey a day to regular intake of gazpacho, a traditional cold Spanish soup made from tomatoes and cucumbers.

Gumersindo Cubo, 101, from Avila, puts his longevity down to a childhood spent in a house in the woods with his eight brothers and sisters, where his father was a park ranger.

“It’s from inhaling the pine resin from the woods where I lived as a child,” he says, telling of how his mother would put a jar of the resin under the bed of the sick.

 

(Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
Copyright 2016 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Related posts

David Bowie, pop music legend behind Ziggy Stardust, dies at 69 from cancer

EMTV Online

WHO: Oral Cholera Vaccine Stock To Double

Marie Kauna

Boram General Hospital Missing Millions

EMTV Online
error: Content is protected !!