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Anyone wanting to avoid hospital stays might want to talk to Beatrice Jensen of New Waterford, N.S..
Through her lifetime, Jensen, 107, was only ever in the emergency room once — when she was 101 — and was admitted to the hospital for an injury or illness once, at age 105.
“I’ve never been sick much through my life,” Jensen said. “I never get a cold.”
Jensen said she’s never been one for doctor visits either.
“They find out too much about you,” she said, laughing.
Jensen credits her healthy life to not going out much through her life but rather being content at home, staying stress-free and eating well.
“She isn't thin and frail because she eats good,” said her daughter Betty Ross, who said her mother has been living with her since she turned 101.
Ross said her mother likes full dinners — turkey or roast — and will have four or five vegetables. Always enjoying tea, she’ll have a square with it and also enjoys candy.
“She likes about everything except spaghetti and pizza,” Ross added.
- Beatrice Jensen, 107
- Born in 1912 in Belleoram, Fortune Bay, N.L.
- Lives with daughter Betty Ross in New Waterford
- Has two children, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren
Jensen was born in 1912 in Belleoram, Fortune Bay, N.L. Her boyfriend, Abraham Jensen, a plumber, headed to New Waterford for employment and later on worked in the coal mines. Jensen was 28 when she followed him there. Before the next year passed, they had married. Eventually came two children, Ross and her brother, Bud Jensen.
Abraham died in 2005 at age 92.
Six years ago, Jensen wasn’t feeling well one morning so Ross called an ambulance for her mother.
“That was the first and only time she was ever in the emergency room,” Ross said.
It was felt she might have had a mild heart attack.
“The doctor thought that was the time it would be good for her to come and live with me,” she said. “She has never had a problem with her heart since.”
Two years ago, one night Ross heard her mother scream at about 11 p.m. and found her sitting on the floor. Calling an ambulance, the paramedics discovered Jensen had broken her femur.
That was her first and only time admitted to the hospital for an illness or injury. The only other times she had ever been in the hospital was for the birth of her children.
“The doctor said although she was 105, she was in such good shape he was going to go ahead with the surgery,” she said. “She’s never been a patient in the hospital except for that.”
However, there has also been a lifetime of few doctor visits. Ross said, humorously, Dr. Peter Littlejohn — now retired — said once that’s why Jensen is so healthy — because she never goes to doctors.
Littlejohn actually remembers making that comment.
“It’s all based on an article in the American Medical Association Journal 10-15 years ago,” he said.
Littlejohn said Jensen was his oldest patient ever.
“She was never a great one for seeing doctors, that’s for sure,” he said. “One hundred and seven is a magnificent age to get to.”
Littlejohn said Jensen was healthy, looked after herself and given her take on doctors, he saw her very little. He remembers checking on her when she was 103 at her home.
“She was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, doing a crossword puzzle," he said.
Today Jensen enjoys search-a-word puzzles, reading the newspaper and having a cup of tea. Ross said her mother was always a homemaker and always at home. Jensen uses a walker for balance and has some issues with her sight.
“About 14 years ago we got her using a walker and that was a fight,” Ross said. “She said it makes her look old.”
“She was never a great one for seeing doctors, that’s for sure.” — Dr. Peter Littlejohn
However, Jensen also participates in chores when she can. Last year Jensen talked so much about Christmas cake, Ross went out for supplies one day and they made it together.
“Between us we cut everything up.”
Looking back over 107 years, the biggest changes Jensen sees in life today are with young people and the freedom they get. Growing up she wasn’t allowed to go out with boys.
“We had to sneak out and be sly about it,” she said.
Most times she was too busy to leave the home, having too many chores from making beds to washing floors, doing dishes and baking bread.
“Today kids are free — they don’t have to do anything," she added.
Where Jensen stands in the list of the oldest people in Nova Scotia is not known. Jensen said they never looked into it as her mother is a private person.
“She can’t believe she’s 107,” Jensen added.
When searching for the oldest person in Canada and Nova Scotia, officials at Vital Statistics said once a person turns 100, their birth certificate is no longer kept under that category but moved to "archives."
Officials at the Nova Scotia Department of Seniors said they do not track that information as well.
According to Guinness World Records, as of Feb. 21, 2020, the oldest known living person in the world is Kane Tanaka of Japan, age 117 years, 50 days.
The oldest person whose age has been independently verified is Jeanne Calment of France, who in 1997 lived to the age of 122 years, 164 days.