Joannes “Jan” Aloïsius Goossenaerts was born in Essen, a quiet town in the north of the Kempen area in Antwerp province. After working on the land and as a brick layer, he retired at the age of 65 in 1965. He had five children, two of whom died before him in 2010. This is one of the reasons why he didn’t want to celebrate his birthday this year.
The Belgian supercentenarian is, since the death of Stanley Lucas in the UK, the oldest living man in Europe. He is currently the world’s third-oldest living man.
Four years ago he finally moved to an old people’s home. Last year, when he turned 110, he received a visit from the Flemish premier Kris Peeters.
Asked about his “secrets” to live a long life, Jan always mentions: “Working hard, going to sleep at a decent hour and putting Liège syrup on your bread.”
There are only 82 people over 110 years of age in the whole world, 77 women and 5 men.