Gerontology Wiki
Li Haimei
Li Haimei
Haimei in April 2010, shortly before turning 110.
Birth: 10 May 1900
Taizhou, Zhejiang, Qing dynasty (now China)
Death: 3 January 2012
Taizhou, Zhejiang, China
Age: 111 years, 238 days
Country: ChinaCHN

Li Haimei [Chinese: 李海妹] (10 May 1900 – 3 January 2012) was a Chinese supercentenarian whose age is currently unvalidated by the Gerontology Research Group.


Early Life

Li Haimei claimed to have been born on 10 May 1900 in Niankeng Village, situated in Shaojiadu Subdistrict, Linhai City, Taizhou, Zhejiang, Qing dynasty (now China). Her family lived in a hut situated in a straw shed. One night, a thief came in their hut, and she saw her parents being lifted, and cattle and sheeps being taken away.

Haimei's father died before she has learnt how to walk. At the age of 8, an arranged marriage with the man of another family made her a child bride, because of her family's poverty. Haimei had a son, who died prematurely at age 20 in an accident, and a daughter, Jin Meilan [Chinese: 金梅兰] (aged 77 in 2010), who married Zhou Shizeng [Chinese: 周诗增] (aged 86 in 2010).

At the time of the first years of the New China, Haimei lived in the mountains and rarely went out. When thinking to past, she said: "The president Mao is good! The Communist Party is good!"

In the 1950s, Haimei's husband died of illness, so her granddaughter Zhou Su'e [Chinese: 周苏娥] joined her house in Niutou Moutain [Chinese: 牛头山上]. She said: "At this time, my grandmother often talked about the past painful times."

At the age of 52, Haimei went working in a tea room, cooking for others; when she sold eggs, she hesitated to eat one, but sold all of it. Her granddaughter looked after the chickens, and one of them was taken by an eagle.

Centenarian years

Since about age 100, Haimei had eyesight loss. Before a visit to the doctor because of these problems at age 106, her family didn't know exactly her age, according to her granddaughter. At the age of 106, Haimei was reported to be the oldest living person in Linhai County, Taizhou.

At the age of 108 in October 2007, Haimei was reported to live in her daughter (Jin Meilan) and son-in-law's house, at more than 600 meters of altitude, in Lantian mountain [Chinese: 兰田山]. Her nephew Zhang Xiaoxiang [Chinese: 张小湘] stated that, although she had bad eyesight due to cataracts, she was physically strong, clear-minded, and had good hearing; she used to eat a little bowl of rice at each meal.

In early April 2010, Haimei was visited by a doctor for physical exams. The cause of her blindness was found to be cataracts. Subsequently, on 28 April 2010, Haimei underwert a cataract surgery on her left eye, making her the oldest patient in China having undergone this operation. It lasted an half-hour, and her eyesight improved of 0,4 the next day; she had difficulties to recognize her daughter.

In April 2010, Haimei was reported to spend most of the time in her bedroom, sleeping most of the time, but to sometimes go out. When the doctor visits her, she happily comes to welcome the person. At that time, her family counted five generations, her youngest great-great-grandson aged 1.

Last years

On the Double Ninth Festival in October 2010, the doctors of the hospital where Haimei was operated visited her. They also made physical exams on Haimei, and stated that her eyesight has recovered a bit (she could see things in front of her), and that her heart was stronger than her daughter's one. However, her hearing has deteriorated. The secret of her longevity could be her good mentality, and the strong relationships she has with her descendents, but her daughter thinks that "maybe, the life was hard when she was a child, and a long time spent working gave her a solid base."

On her 111th birthday in 2011, some people visited her, including Huang Yaozhong [Chinese: 黄耀忠], the surgeon who operated her a year ago. Following the death of 115-year-old Chen Aixiang on 2 May 2011, Haimei was reported to be the oldest living person in Zhejiang Province. However, she was indifferrent when a journalist from Jiaojiang Disctrict, Linhai City, learnt her that, when she was sitting in her rattan-made chair.

In October 2012, she was visited by Taizhou Old Age Foundation's honorific president Lin Xicai [Chinese: 林希才], Taizhou Old Age Foundation's president Zheng Yufang [Chinese: 郑玉芳], and deputy director of the Popular Municipal Assembly's Permanent Comity Jin Nengzhong [Chinese: 金能忠]; they offered her presents. She was reported to eat mush on her three meals, and to have difficulties to walk; however, she kept her severity, as she complains if the breakfast is too early or too late.

Haimei died in her sleep in Yongquan Town, Linhai City, Taizhou, Zhejiang, China, on 3 January 2012, at the claimed age of 111 years, 238 days. Following her death, the oldest living person in Zhejiang was reported to be 112-year-old Zhang Xiangmei.