These are the nine keys to achieving active and healthy aging

world population aging fastThere is scary data, which is that in 2050, one in six people will be over 65 years old. This phenomenon poses important challenges in different dimensions of society (medicine, services, housing, social protection, family, etc.) to ensure the well-being of the elderly.

Experts from various fields of knowledge at UBC (genetics, neuroscience, geriatrics, care, digital communication, politics and social care, etc.) have identified nine The challenges that arise today around active and healthy aging.



1. Slows down the rate of aging

In Spain, between 1999 and 2019, it was Life expectancy for men Go from 75.4 to 80.9 yearsAnd a woman 82.3 to 86.2 yearsAccording to the National Institute of Statistics (INE). Professor of Health Sciences Studies at the University of British Columbia and Professor at the University of Leicester, Salvador McCabeAn expert in cancer and aging, seeks to answer key questions

“We know that aging is inevitable, but we still don’t know Why do some people age worse than others? s What causes organs to gradually deteriorate over time?. We are discovering more and more details about the biological underpinnings of aging and the molecular and cellular changes that determine age-related processes,” McCabe explains. For this scientist, the challenge is to understand all of these aspects in order to be able to manipulate them in the future.

2. Reversing fragility and delaying disability

The 10% of people over 65 have weakness“, pointing to Marco Anzetteri, an expert in geriatrics and a professor in the University of California Department of Health Sciences. “Despite being relatively independent, older adults can slow down, lose weight unintentionally, or lose memory, among other things. Asthenia increases the risk of adverse health events, such as Fall and dementia in the near future or disability“, Add.

The best way to delay it as long as possible is to Doing physical exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, taking care of sleep, and reviewing medications (So ​​it’s really what corresponds) Strengthening social relationships.

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3. Achieving healthy brain aging

Currently, the study of the nervous system and the mechanisms responsible for mental and neurological diseases has become a priority. For Diego Ridollar, a neuroscientist at the University of Oklahoma, Brain health is an essential part of maintaining cognitive abilitiesTo prevent neurological diseases and reduce their impact if they occur. “Keeping the brain in good shape is essential to promoting the overall health of the body, and thus achieving a good quality of life,” he says. Recommendations: Good sleep, physical exercise, cognitive training and mental activities throughout the life cycle, and social support.

4. Fight loneliness and anti-aging

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), social isolation and loneliness are common among the elderly. Between 20% and 34% of the elderly In Europe, the United States, Latin America and China feel lonely. Unwanted loneliness is one of the greatest risks to the deterioration of people’s health, and a decisive factor favoring their entry into danger or a state of dependence. “It is a new form of abuse and abandonment in today’s society, to which we must add a lack of care in the family and institutional environment,” warns the University of Oklahoma expert on aging, politics and welfare, Daniel Weil.

5. The ability to live in a “house”

The 82% of elderly people in Spain say they want to grow up at homeAnd According to data from the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU). “This shows that while getting older at home is a very important aspect for older adults, there is also a risk that this may not always be possible,” notes the researcher from the CareNet group at UOC’s IN3 Rain Far. In many cases, staying at home is not a solution, because homes are ill-equipped for the needs of elderly care or can become “golden cages” they cannot get out of, thus withdrawing from society. The home itself can become synonymous with unwanted solitude and loneliness.

6. Generous care

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in caring for people, especially the elderly: remote home care, trackers, all kinds of apps As well as companion robots and caregivers, new structures for homes and dwellings, etc. According to Daniel Lopez, professor of psychology and educational sciences at the University of Oklahoma, these Technologies are changing the organization of care, but they usually seek to reduce costs or outsource.

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“It is necessary Putting the right to dignified care and the dignity of care at the center of public policy. Technology must contribute decisively and effectively. To do this we must change the way we understand and design technology. The technological argument cannot be to reduce the costs of care work and outsourcing,” explains Lopez, who is also a researcher in the Care and Preparedness group in the Network Society (CareNet).

7. Addressing digital inequality

Discrimination on the basis of age or age discrimination is manifested through difference Society’s stereotypes and prejudices about the elderly. “A general idea of ​​aging and digitization does not do this group justice. These myths harm us as a society and create stereotypes that make it difficult to understand the specific needs of older adults,” he says. Mireya Fernandez-Ardfulexpert in digital communication and the elderly.

In Spain, the percentage Seniors using online banking do not reach 40%, a figure well below the average of 65% for the general population. “The pandemic and the restructuring of the sector have accelerated the closure of branches and ATMs, in addition to the intensive digitization of the banking sector. This significant reduction in direct and face-to-face service has a disproportionate impact that, in relative terms, affects the elderly more,” he ensures. “Although contributing to a possible solution to the problem Strengthening digital skills of the numerically discriminated population, and the other is Recognition and enforcement of the right to alternative channels to digitization in all essential services.

8. Fighting “technical optimism”

Technology isn’t always good for everything. For 35% of Spain’s population, the Internet is mainly a negative environmentEither because it does not facilitate socialization, or because it does not allow you to escape from the daily routine or because it does not simplify life. “Older adults often raise their voices against the prevailing ‘technical optimism’, in both the private and public spheres,” comments Andrea Rosales, a researcher in the CNSC group at IN3 and professor of information studies and communication sciences. University of British Columbia.

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The expert on older people and ICT argues that they are a group that helps think about the utopias posed by new technologies. The solution is not always for people to go digital. “Society should pay more attention to the opinion of older people about how we develop society, returning them to the place of the wise man who has so much to share and think about,” he says.

9. Opportunity guarantee

The right to education, training and lifelong learning is enshrined in Principle 1 of the European Pillar of Social Rights. In concert, the European Union emphasizes, in the field of education, the need to provide quality education and training for all. “To make it possible, it is necessary Providing us with a regulatory and economic framework, appropriate institutions, trained professionals, and a quality offer. This is the only way to create conditions that respond to educational needs and ensure accessibility for the individual at different moments in life,” explains Yulia Hernandez, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences and Principal Investigator in the PSINET Group from the University of British Columbia.

“Training throughout life is an aspect directly related to people’s health and quality of life,” says the expert. There is a wide range of training (courses organized by local centers and facilities, formal university programmes, etc.) aimed only at the elderly, is this what is required? ActHow do we respond to older, active people who are looking for personal development and participation in their community in a meaningful way? “

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