Last person alive born in 19th century celebrates 117th birthday

Emma Morano, thought to be the world's oldest person and the last to be born in the 1800s, blows candles during her 117th birthday in Verbania, northern Italy November 29, 2016. © Alessandro Garofalo
The oldest verified person in the world and the last person alive known to have been born in the 19th century has celebrated her 117th birthday.

Emma Morano, from Verbania in Northern Italy, claims the secret to her longevity is eating “two eggs a day, and that's it. And cookies. But I do not eat much, because I have no teeth," she told AFP.

Morano said she will not eat birthday cake, as the last time she did she became ill, and she is unlikely to attend a celebration of her life in a local theater titled, “The woman who saw three centuries.”

Instead, Morano, who has been bed-bound for a year, will receive guests in her home including relatives and Verbania Mayor Silvia Marchionini.

Born on November 29, 1899, Morano has lived through two world wars and 19 US presidents. The eldest of eight children, she has outlived all her siblings and been solitary for most of her life, after leaving her violent husband in 1938. Her only child died in infancy and Morano supported herself working in a factory producing jute sacks.

Only last year, at the age of 116, did she finally take on a full-time carer to look after her. With poor eyesight and hearing, Morano has not left her apartment for 20 years, but her mind is said to still be alert.

Morano has five more years to go if she wants to achieve the all-time record as the world’s oldest person. Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment died in 1997, aged 122 years and 164 days.

Morano earned the title of oldest verifiable person alive in May this year when the previous holder, Susannah Mushatt Jones, died in Brooklyn, New York, aged 116.

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