For most people, the 1920s are a topic for historians, but Henrietta Thornber spent her childhood there. The 104-year-old has an idea why she reached such an old age.

Henrietta Thornber, known as Hetty, celebrated her 104th birthday in February 2024 and tells the Liverpool Echo about her long and eventful life. She believes the secret of her longevity is hard work, contentment and love for her job.

Hetty grew up in poverty. She shared a double bed with her ten siblings and the family survived on “scouse”, a traditional stew from Liverpool. “We had no money,” the pensioner told the newspaper.

The 104-year-old looks back on her marriage to her husband Joe, whom she met as a teenager. She remembers the many nights she secretly smuggled him into her house, as her father was strictly against men visiting at night. They married when Hetty was 18 and had two children. The young family loved the theater, even if they didn’t have money for tickets. So they would just stand outside to talk to the actors.

Hetty worked as a cleaner until she was 70. She loved her job and had lots of friends there, she enthused in an interview with the newspaper. She even cried on her last day at work. “If you really love your job, then that’s everything,” the Liverpool Echo quoted her as saying. But Hetty still had adventures during her retirement. At the age of 85, she flew to Spain for the first time on holiday.

When asked about the reasons for her long life, the pensioner answers: “I have worked all my life. I haven’t smoked or drunk for a long time.” She was happy with herself and her work. Looking back on her eventful history, she says to herself: “You did it.”

The SWR reports on a study by US scientists on veterans, which underlines Hetty’s tips. According to the study, three risk factors are primarily responsible for early death: smoking, little exercise and opioid addiction. Each of these factors increases the risk of death by 30 to 45 percent.

Overall, the researchers found in their analysis of their data that men aged 40 and over who had a healthy lifestyle lived around 24 years longer. Statistically speaking, people who do not smoke or drink, have lots of social contacts, sleep well and have little stress can look forward to a long life. Improvements in individual factors can make a difference, even at the age of 50 or 60.

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