Curiosity

The oldest woman in the world celebrates her 117th birthday

Today is the 117th birthday of the world's oldest living person, Maria Branyas Morera.

Maria was born on March 4, 1907 in San Francisco, USA, but returned to Spain with her family when she was eight years old to settle in Catalonia.

She has lived there ever since and has resided in the same nursing home for the past 23 years.

Maria became the oldest person in the world in January 2023, after the death of 118-year-old Lucile Randon (France).

The nursing home where Maria is staying has indicated that she is in very good health.

Apart from hearing difficulties and movement problems, she has no physical or mental health problems.

In fact, it is in such good shape that it has agreed to undergo scientific tests by researchers who hope to gain further insight into the secrets of long life.

Scientist Manel Esteller, who has spoken to Maria at length, told the Spanish newspaper ABC: “She has a completely clear mind. He remembers with impressive clarity the events of the time when he was only four years old and does not present any cardiovascular disease, common in the elderly.

"Clearly there is a genetic component because there are several members of her family who are over 90 years old."

Samples of Maria's saliva, blood and urine have been taken and will be compared with those of her 80-year-old daughter. Researchers hope that evaluating Maria's genes will help develop drugs that can fight diseases associated with aging.

Befitting her status as the world's oldest person in the digital age, Maria is active on X (formerly known as Twitter) with the help of her daughter. Her biography says: "I'm old, very old, but not an idiot."

In addition to "luck and good genetics", Maria attributes her longevity to "order, calmness, good connection with family and friends, contact with nature, emotional stability, no worries, lots of positivity and staying away from toxic people".

Because of her poor hearing, Maria's family uses a voice device to communicate with her.

She became permanently deaf in one ear as a child after falling while playing with her brothers while traveling from America to Spain in 1915.

This was not the only misfortune the family suffered on board the ship - Maria's father sadly died of pulmonary tuberculosis at the end of the voyage.

Maria lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 as well as the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), of which she said she has "very bad memories".

She married in 1931 a Catalan doctor named Joan Moret, with whom she had three children.

Her husband passed away in 1976; she also experienced the death of her only son, August, who died in a tractor accident at the age of 86.

Over a century after the 1918 pandemic, Mary also survived COVID-19 – she contracted it weeks after turning 113 in 2020, but made a full recovery within days, becoming the world's oldest survivor of COVID-19. The title was taken later in the year by Lucile Randon, who was three years older than Maria.

Despite admitting she's "getting closer and closer to death" in a post on X last month, Maria has a positive outlook on life and believes there's always something new to learn every day, even at her age.

She is now the 12th oldest verified person in history and if she turns 118, she will move up to 5th. The oldest person was the Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who lived to the age of 122 years and 164 days.