Born in Louisiana on July 25, 1909, Elizabeth Francis is the oldest woman living in America. At 114 years old, the Houston, Texas, resident became the oldest person living in America after California resident Edith “Edie” Ceccarelli died at age 116 on Feb. 22.

According to data, Francis is now the fifth-oldest person on Earth. She’s preceded by Maria Branyas Morera of Spain, Tomiko Itooka of Japan, Inah Canabarro Lucas of Brazil, and Juan Vicente Perez Mora of Venezuela.

114-Year-Old Elizabeth Francis (Photo: Ethel Harrison)
114-Year-Old Elizabeth Francis. (Photo: Ethel Harrison)

Francis currently lives in Houston with her 94-year-old daughter Dorothy Williams and her granddaughter Ethel Harrison, who is the caregiver of both women.

“It’s just amazing,” Harrison, 68, tells We’re so grateful that she’s still here, and my mom, who’s her daughter — she only had one child — is still alive, too.”

Francis’ three grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren could have the odds of a long life in favor of them. One of Francis’ sisters lived to be 106, another sister lived until 95, and their father died at 99.

The Keys to A Long Life

Have Faith

Embracing a faith-based lifestyle leads to reduced depression, stronger social networks, a profound sense of purpose, and an extended lifespan.

When you ask Ms. Francis about her secret to longevity, she attributes it all to God.

“It’s not my secret. It’s the good Lord’s good blessing,” Francis told “I just thank God I’m here.”

Francis’s family shares that being around community has helped her live a long life.

Their theory is also backed by science. Several studies have shown that an active social life can carry both physical and psychological benefits.

A 2023 Cambridge University study published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences revealed that friendships in older adults contributed to better physical and mental health in many cases. Stronger connections to family and friends can even prolong your lifespan through illness. According to a study conducted by Joan C Engebretson, Noemi E Peterson, and Moshe Frenkel for the National Library of Medicine, after interviewing fourteen cancer survivors of advanced stages of their diseases who ended up living 11 years after their initial diagnosis on average e, a common theme was found. All of the subjects had strong connections to family and friends, which increased their will to live.

Healthy Eating

If you want to live for many years, you can’t ignore the importance of a healthy diet. Elizabeth Francis had a backyard garden where she grew vegetables such as collard greens, mustard greens, carrots, and okra.

“Whenever you went to her house, I don’t care what day of the week, she was cooking,” says Harrison. “I just think that had a lot to do with it, too. Just how she took care of her body and things like that.”

A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine suggests that consuming a more plant-based or Mediterranean-style diet rich in beans, whole grains, and nuts could add 10 years to your life. Cutting out sugar, processed meats and refined grains can improve longevity as well.

Staying Active

A healthy physical lifestyle also helped. Harrison says Francis, who was a single mother, never smoked or drank alcohol, walked regularly until her early ’90s, and was a hard worker.

“She was a hard worker. That’s what I remember most about her. Even when she retired, she still would work. She did domestic work, but she was always working,” Harrison recalls. “Even though she didn’t make a lot, she saved her money. She didn’t just go out and just buy things.”

What The Experts Say About Longevity

Harvard University researchers looked at factors that might increase the chances of a longer life. Researchers found the five factors for a healthier and longer lifespan include a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise of at least 150 minutes a week, not smoking, and moderate use of alcohol.

The research found that people who incorporated these lifestyle changes lived up to 14 years longer compared to those who did not.

In a follow-up study, the researchers found that women at age 50 who practiced four or five of the healthy habits listed above lived about 34 more years free of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, which is about 10 years more than women who did not. Men practicing four or five healthy habits at age 50 lived about 31 years free of chronic disease, compared with 24 years among men who practiced none.

According to the study, men who were current heavy smokers and men and women with obesity had the lowest disease-free life expectancy.