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November 21, 2016

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A century on, and these people face every new day with a smile

SONG Honggen, 107, is the oldest known male living in Shanghai.

The former farmer lives with his 73-year-old daughter Song Hai’e and son-in-law in Loutang Town in Jiading. His wife died decades ago and he never remarried.

“My father has a good mindset and is warm-hearted,” said his daughter.

He’s not the oldest known resident in the city, however. That honor belongs to Zhu Xiaohua, 112, who lives in a hospital facility in Jiading.

They are part of the “city of longevity.”

Shanghai, with China’s highest life expectancy, boasted some 1,751 residents who are 100 years or older by the end of last year. Last year, the number of centenarians rose 7.4 percent from a year earlier, becoming the fastest growing segment of the elderly population. That meant there were about 12 people 100 or older for every 100,000 Shanghai residents.

The Jing’an, Huangpu and Xuhui districts have the largest concentrations of centenarians, with Jing’an recording 27.4 per 100,000 residents.

“These centenarians have different life experiences,” said Sun Pengbiao, secretary-general of the Shanghai Gerontological Society. “Most of them are broad-minded, kind-hearted and even-tempered. They get proper exercise, do things for themselves, don’t smoke, get plenty of sleep and are not picky about food.”

In addition, they usually enjoy harmonious family relationships, with children who respect and look after them, according to Sun.

That’s certainly the case in the household of farmer Song. He worked the soil until his health began to deteriorate. That didn’t stop him from doing volunteer work in his neighborhood when roads were flooded during the rainy season several years ago.

“Meat, particularly fatty meat, is still his favorite, and he eats cornmeal and sesame paste for breakfast every day,” said the daughter.

Song never eats spicy foods, ice cream or fish.

He has retained a good memory. He can rattle off the zodiac signs of all family members and even those of some his neighbors.

He likes chatting with neighbors but seldom goes out much due to his health, his daughter said.

His older contemporary, Zhu Xiaohua, also has a strong good memory and regularly exercises, the gerontological society said.

Shanghai’s oldest resident enjoys chatting and eating sweets. She never takes any nutrition supplements and is not fussy about food. She has a cup of yogurt every day.

Zhu, who lives in Yingyuan Hospital now, likes to sing and sleeps well every night.

Two other centenarians, Chen Zhongbo, 106, and Gao Sujun, 105, were honored this year at the city’s “longevity stars” event in October. Both dressed in red and appeared to be in fine fettle.

Chen bathes himself and washes his own clothes.

“I like playing mahjong!” he said in a clear voice.
He’s not only an avid player but also a frequent winner at mahjong sessions played with others at a senior home where he lives.

His daughter Chen Surong said Chen is not picky about what he eats.

“I prefer fatty meat to lean meat,” he said with a grin.

Chen has volunteered to donate his body to medical science when he dies. He said he doesn’t want his children paying for a funeral.

Gao, who wears red-framed spectacles, admits she is still “picky” about clothing.

She said she does 10 minutes of exercises every day. Her favorite foods are cereals, yams and pumpkin.

Her daughter Liu Yunhua said Gao rarely shows any anger.

“My mother is always happy,” Liu said. “She dismisses unhappy things and doesn’t let them prey on her mind.”


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