Mekong Delta centenarians show a youthful zest for life

By Long Nguyen   October 31, 2019 | 06:30 pm PT
20 centenarians and many retirees older than 80 live healthy and active lives in Long Xuyen Town and a nearby commune in An Giang.

There’s no talk of longevity genes and no one has a materially luxurious life; many old people in the town simply say that the secret to living to 100 and beyond lies in being active and enjoying life.

They said they never allow themselves to be lazy and sit at home all day. Some of the old people even ride bicycles every day.

102-year-old Quach Van Banh rides his bicycle. Photo by Khanh Hung.

103-year-old Quach Van Banh rides his bicycle. Photo by An Giang Online/Khanh Hung.

103-year-old Quach Van Banh is an example. Not many people know that two senior citizens biking in town wearing sunglasses are Banh and his 75-year-old son, Quach Van Hen. Banh says he always has a nap from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. before hanging out with his son and friends. 

He also says that he has always been optimistic and always said no to alcohol.

Some people turn household chores into workouts, like 102-year-old Le Thi Quyt. She has a firm rule. She will never depend on anyone else do her housework. She wakes up at 4 a.m. and finishes all her house chores before visiting her son living nearby. 

Quyt is also strict with her diet. A small bowl of rice or congee for each meal, and some fruits. She never has soup or milk. 

Only 15 km from Long Xuyen, the Nhon My Commune in southern An Giang Province’s Cho Moi District has been nicknamed the "centennial village" as there are many residents older than 100 here. Some retirees in their nineties still ride their motorbikes around.

In Nhon My, Nhon An hamlet has as many as 85 citizens older than 80, said Nguyen Van Thung, head of Nhon My's Association of the Elderly. The hamlet used to have around 10 people who lived well beyond 100, one as long as a 117 years, locals say.

According to the Vietnam General Office for Population and Family Planning, the average life expectancy of Vietnamese in 2018 was 73.5 years, but, generally, people only live in good health till they are 64.

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