Many of you have heard Dr. Taylor talk about Jeanne Louise Calment of Arles in Southern France. Since 1997, this woman has been touted as having lived to a documented age of 122 years 164 days. Well, guess what? Russian gerontologist Valery Novoselov, who initially called for the investigation into the documentation of Jeanne's age, said he first became suspicious because Jeanne didn't fit typical data trends. A 2018 study suggests that the woman known as Jeanne Louise Calment may actually have been Jeanne's daughter, Yvonne. The only way to solve this potential mystery is to exhume Jeanne and her daughter Yvonne and see which is which and who is who. Imagine the uproar if the Russian researcher’s theory is correct, as the city of Arles, France has received a great deal of attention because of Jeanne Louise Calment.
Reportedly, Novoselov, expressed his concern in an interview with the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to extending the human lifespan. Officially, it’s said that Jeanne Louise Calment's daughter died in 1934, but both Novoselov and Nikolai Zak, the mathematician who helped analyze the data on supercentenarians for the 2018 study, believe data are reversed. They surmise that it was Jeanne Louise who had died, aged almost 59, and that her daughter (Yvonne) assumed her mother’s name and personality. Naturally the question becomes, “Why would a daughter do that?” Well, money may have played a role. (It often seems to be the bottom line in quite a few mysteries.) Yvonne may have assumed her mother's identity after her death in order to avoid paying the inheritance tax. So, when Jeanne (perhaps alias Yvonne) died in 1997, it may be that this individual was 99 years old and not 122 years 164 days as had been supposedly documented.
So how did Novoselov begin to question the reportedly documented lifespan of Jeanne Louise Calment of 122 years, 164 days? Well, Novoselov who initially called for the investigation into Jeanne's age, said he first became suspicious because Jeanne didn't fit typical data trends. "Jeanne is a dot away from the main trend," the researcher told the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to extending the human lifespan. Whenever a new record is set, the person dies several days or several weeks later, very rarely several months later. However, we are never speaking about years apart, not several years. If the Russian researcher’s theory proves to be true, the record will pass to American Sarah Knauss, who died in 1999 at the documented age of 119.
Relatively speaking, centenarians as a percentage of the overall population base are increasing. Naturally, estimates of the centenarian population can be hard to come by due to a variety of issues include misreporting, difficulty in verifying the ages reported, as centenarians might not have birth records to confirm their age, and data- processing issues. However, available data suggest that the USA leads the world in terms of the sheer number of centenarians, followed by Japan, China, India, and Italy. According to United Nations estimates in 2015, the world was home to nearly half a million centenarians (people ages 100 and older). This was more than four times the estimated number in 1990. Projections suggest there will be 3.7 million centenarians across the globe by 2050.
The definition of a supercentenarian is a person who is significantly older than 100 years of age. Another definition is an individual typically who has lived to or surpassed their 110th birthday. This age is achieved by about one in 1,000 centenarians. Anderson et al. concluded that supercentenarians live a life typically free of major age-related diseases until shortly before maximum human lifespan is reached. According to official forecasts, the number of supercentenarians is expected to rise rapidly over the next 25 years. Naturally, there have been quite a few reports of human beings who were supercentenarians. However, the available documentation did not meet the standards required by Guinness World Records and/or that of other organizations. So, if the research reveals that Jeanne Louise Calment did not live to be 122 years 164 days and if the record passes to American Sarah Knauss, who lived to the documented age of 119 years 97 days, does that impact Taylor’s own personal goal? “Not a bit,” she said. “I’m still aiming to be a supercentenarian!” Stay tuned to see how this mystery turns out.