Nov 24, 2013
05:43 AM
The Connecticut Story

Connecticut's Longevity 'Club': More Than 200 Residents Are 100 or Older

Connecticut's Longevity 'Club': More Than 200 Residents Are 100 or Older

Mara Lavitt/New Haven Register

Mae Christie, 102, formerly of Guilford, William “Bill” Priolo, 100, formerly of East Haven, and Mary Manzi, 100, formerly of East Haven, now in residence at Apple Rehab in Guilford.

Standing 4 feet, 6 inches tall, 100-year-old Louise Bonito finishes making fresh coffee for her daughter in her North Haven kitchen, where, despite her age, she moves around without trouble.

Born in New Haven and raised in the Fair Haven section, Bonito has lived in her North Haven home for 53 years, and has no intention of leaving.

Five children, 12 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren later, Bonito said she’s seen it all.

“Growing up, I never thought I’d see any of the technology they have today. I grew up when we didn’t have electricity, cars or telephones,” she said.

Bonito is not the only Connecticut resident to have grown up without much of the technology we may now take for granted. She is one of 219 state residents 100 years old or older.

Of the state’s centenarians, 217 live in urban areas, 44 are male and 173 are female. Two, both women, live in rural areas according to the Connecticut Department of Aging. (Above, Louise Bonito, 100, of North Haven with a photo of her family. Melanie Stengel — New Haven Register)

With a population of 862,813 residents in New Haven County, 129,422, or 15 percent, are 65 or older; 16 percent of those are 100 or older, according to the SDA.

While Bonito doesn’t admit to having any secrets that allowed her to reach triple digits, her daughter, Camille Adairo, said “cooking fresh” kept her mother healthy.

“She had her own garden and made everything from scratch,” Adairo said.

Bonito also avoided medication until she had to use a pacemaker for her heart.

“And that was just because her doctor told her she was getting an old heart,” Adairo said.

Ted Surh, president and CEO of the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut, said there are various reasons people are living longer.

“Of course, we have medicine and technology now, but some people are just living a healthier lifestyle,” Surh said.

Edith Prague, commissioner of the Department of Aging, said lifestyle also may contribute to longer living.

“I think there are many reasons why. I think senior centers are a big factor. People go and can enjoy a meal with their peers, along with other activities,” said Prague, who is in her late 80s.

See the full story at the New Haven Register online.

Connecticut's Longevity 'Club': More Than 200 Residents Are 100 or Older

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