Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Abraham S. Fischler College of Education
100 Years, Centenarians, Haiti, Lifestyle, Longevity, Resilience
A ceaselessly neglected phenomenon until recent years, especially in developing countries, centenarians bring unique wisdom, perspective, history and science to our society based on their lived experiences. Although there is a strong interest in the experiences of individuals who are over 100 years old, few formal research studies have been conducted concerning centenarians, principally in developing countries. One of the central goals of conducting this study was to bridge the gap in the literature when it comes to centenarians in less developed countries, given the lack of reported statistics, with emphasis given to those living on the battered, but resilient island of Haiti, while also giving voice to its once assumed voiceless centenarians.
Although this is the first study of its kind to focus on centenarians on the island, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from what some would call the island's true survivors. Three significant findings emerged from the study. First, the Haitian centenarians and supercentenarians were outliving their family members, friends, and loved ones. The second was the changes that their physical body had gone through with old age. The third finding was the age-related memory loss. Interestingly, they all seemed to mention being afflicted by memory loss, although they were quite lucid as they openly shared their recollection of their youth, past cultural traditions, and wisdom they have gained over the course of a century and beyond. Six themes were formulated from the archival transcripts once the data analysis process was complete: loss of financial independence, centenarians’ mixed emotions about living such a long life, longevity is grounded in God’s Will and a good heart, centenarians’ criticism of today's youth, remarkable resilience, and bestowed wisdom. Participants attributed their longevity to a good heart, being a good person, strong health and God’s Will. Spirituality, faith and prayers sustain these centenarians in navigating a world difficult enough to combat as a youth, but seemingly impossible for someone over 100 years of age. They face countless physical obstacles, burdened by scarce resources, loneliness, and even neglect. The study on Haitian centenarians can be beneficial to a large audience. Doctors can be educated on a number of lifestyle practices focusing on preventative measures to reach optimum health and wellness as opposed to post-incident care. Others, including school officials, educators, young adults, students, powerful leaders, can all benefit from their knowledge and wisdom to help prevent any negative history from repeating itself. The contributions that centenarians bring to our society are significant, unique and immeasurable. Living to be 100 years old or older is inarguably rare, and for a country in such dire need of basic resources like Haiti, having so many centenarians is nothing short of a phenomenon.
Erna Dasilma. 2020. Haitian Centenarians: An Undocumented Phenomenon. Doctoral dissertation. Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved from NSUWorks, Abraham S. Fischler College of Education. (394)