New Oldest Person in America Is 113-Year-Old Jeralean Talley

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After the death of the oldest person in America on March 21, Jeralean Talley of Georgia took the spot. She's 113 years old and was born on May 23, 1899.

She said there is really no secret to living long, as she doesn't follow any strict diet or exercise regime. Talley drinks her coffee black in the morning and doesn't eat cheese because she doesn't like it.

She also lives by the motto: "treat others the way you want to be treated."

Talley is the oldest person in America and the third oldest person in the world, following a man and woman in Japan, according to the Gerontology Research Group.

"In this particular case, the 1900 Census was the defining factor for identification," Robert Young of GRC said. "We checked the names of the parents and siblings to make sure it's the correct person listed in the records."

Talley credits God for her long life.

"Don't ask me," she said. She then pointed to the sky. "Ask him."

Born in Montrose, Ga., she moved to Michigan in 1935.

The average age expectancy for an American is 78.7 years. To reach the status of "supercentenarian," or a person who is older than 110, is very rare, happening in only 1 in 5 million people.

It turns out, the key to living a long life is good genes. While eating healthily and staying in shape helps, doctors said supercentenarians have their family to thank for giving them the right mix of genes.

"Getting that right combination is what makes it rare," Dr. Tom Perls said. "It's like winning the lottery."

Dr. L. Stephen Coles started studying supercentenarians because he wanted to uncover their secret to living long lives. 

He discovered there wasn't really any secret, as most of the supercentenarians had parents, siblings and children that also lived long lives.

"That means to me that longevity is inherited," he said.

Unsurprisingly, most of Talley's siblings lived into their 90s and her only child is 75 years old.

There are five generations of her family alive.

Though she has had to give up many things over the years, like bowling, she said she still participates in many of the same hobbies she's had all her life. 

She looks forward to attending her annual fishing outing with her friend, Michael Kinloch, in May.

"Her memory is phenomenal," Kinloch said. He has known her for 20 years after they met in church.

It's clear how good her memory is when she begins telling stories. One of her most amusing ones is recalling the time she tried to drive a car in her 30s.

"I tried that one time," she said. "I didn't hit the right one to make it go forward and it went backwards." She laughs as she remembers it, as her husband Alfred Talley, who died in 1988, told her he would drive her once he saw how bad she was at it.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Daily Mail