Filomena Taipe Mendoza, considered to be the oldest woman in Peru, has died at age 117 in the southern town of Pucuto, the development and social inclusion ministry, or Midis, announced.
Taipe, who — according to official figures — was born in 1897, lived along in a little adobe house in Pucuto, which is in the Andean province of Huancavelica, and enjoyed “surprisingly good health and lucidity for her age”, the ministry said.
The woman was a widow and the mother of nine children, whom she raised alone, maintaining contact with the three of her children who are still living.
“The residents of Pucuto and populated centres in the area remember her walking through the small farms with her cane, receiving the respectful and loving greetings of children, young people and adults whom she encountered on her way. They, her neighbours, visited her every day,” Midis said.
Taipe said that the secret of her long life was “natural food” and she added that she never ate anything “from cans, or envelopes” and refused to drink carbonated beverages.
When she turned 117 last December, she was feted by her entire community “who saw in her an example to follow because of her fortitude and advice about nutrition that she gave to the children”, Midis went on to say.
Taipe began receiving benefits under the government’s Pension 65 assistance programme in March 2014, whereby people over age 65 who live in extreme poverty get 250 soles ($83.30) twice a month.
Midis said that the benefit “enabled her to improve the quality of her food even more, adding fruits — which she liked a lot — to her diet”.
“As occurs with many elderly adults … in extreme poverty, Filomena Taipe was undocumented practically her entire life. She recently registered and obtained her national identification document to be able to receive Pension 65,” the ministry said.
Midis also said that her life story was included in the book “Vidas,” which was published by the Pension 65 programme.
Official figures indicate that more than 400 people over age 100 are currently on the Pension 65 roles and 51 of them live in Huancavelica, one of Peru’s poorest regions.