This will be Spain when almost all of us are centenarians

Así será España cuando casi todos seamos centenarios - Investigación, Sociedad

A group of medical experts debate in the Círculo de Empresarios about life expectancy and the consequences of one in four people being over 80 years in a short time.

"The maximum life expectancy has not changed, is around 111 years of age, but the number of people who can reasonably expect to reach that age, which by 2030 can be more than 40,000 people only in Spain ", warned the professor of physiology at the University of Valencia José Viña during the first of the days that the Círculo de Empresarios and the Transforma Foundation dedicated this year to longevity. The round table, moderated by Dr. Mario Alonso Puig, 'fellow' in surgery by the Harvard Medical School, dealt with the new reality that turns people of 70, 80 or 90 years into "individuals with a lot of accumulated youth, but not useless", pointed Puig, who stressed that the" senior talent ", one of the titles of the event," should not be missed because the experience and wisdom that give the years can not be disdained. "

The conference started with a few words from Javier Vega de Seoane, president of the Círculo de Empresarios and Eduardo Serra, the visible head of the Transforma Foundation. Both stressed the essential role that the new life expectancy will have on the economy and the necessary changes in mentality that should entail socially. Rafael Puyol, Professor of Human Geography at the Complutense University of Madrid, spoke on the same subject, stressing that the fact that retirement is at 65 years old completely distorts the reality of the working abilities of people of that age and, in addition, makes the pension system unsustainable as it is conceived: "The demographic pyramid has acquired a form that makes it necessary to think of another formula to give back to retirees," he said.

"Probably, we can expect that those individuals have more than 30 years to live." In total, the forecast is that in 2030 11.7 million Spaniards will surpass that age, "which is 25% of the population as a whole". Of them, in addition, 3.6 million will have more than 80 years. "Obviously there will be a lack of workers for so much spending," the professor said. A situation that also made the speakers reflect on the growing pharmaceutical and health spending as a reality that will condition the economy of developed countries.

Viña spoke about the conditions of this very high life expectancy and also delved into its causes. "The factors that make a person live for many years are genetic, the main one, that has no illnesses, that does not suffer unexpected accidents and that has a healthy lifestyle, which basically refer to diet and physical activity," the doctor thundered. Among his many experiments and publications in world-renowned journals, the doctor recalled an experiment with two convents of nuns in which some were given two glasses of wine a day and the others no. The levels of appearance of J53, one of the inhibiting genes of cancer, had increased among the religious women who drank their wine glasses, while those who did not remain the same.

Wasted talent

Some theses endorsed by José Antonio Serra, Head of Geriatrics Service of the Hospital Gregorio Marañón, who recalled a series of celebrities who maintain their activity despite their advanced age. To highlight the physical and labor market changes that health changes mean for older people, Serra used a devastating argument. "When the rules of retirement were established, only one in 100 workers reached 65 years, today, 95 out of 100".

Dr. Puig also made reference to these elderly people who are still active, some centenarians, such as the British doctor Bill Frankland or the Australian professor and scientist Bill Goodall. "They are people who are active, not abandoned, and that is very important to maintain health," said Puig, who stressed that "physical processes and mental can not be separated, are the reverse and the obverse of a same reality. " That way, older people have to be active and not just physically. "Their talent can not be wasted by society, especially when they represent one out of every four citizens, it's too many people thrown into the ditch, we can not afford it."

In this regard, he recalled an anecdote of the mountaineer Carlos Soria, 79, when trying to tread the summit of Everest, a few meters from the top, decided to turn around and return to base camp. The Sherpa who accompanied him was surprised because they had very little left. Soria sensed the danger. The next day they learned that eight Korean mountaineers who did attempt to climb shortly after they resigned had died. "The experience is capital", exemplified Puig.

Source: El Comercial