Youngsters need to think about old age early in life – even more so today than in the past. Rio de Janeiro born Alexandre Kalache, 72, known as one of the most renowned longevity specialists in Brazil, pointed out the speed at which the elderly population is increasing at the launching of the Plenae platform in May.
According to him, thinking about old age has become an obligation for everyone, even youngsters. To plan a long and healthy life is the only way to avoid what Kalache calls the “threshold of dependence”. Age does not matter, whether 85 or 25, individuals need to always be independent in all senses. They need to contribute to the society in which they live.
Accelerated aging. The number of people over 80 grew 27-fold in less than one century and today make up 14 million people. By the end of the century, it is estimated that we will have 400 million. This is revolutionary. Until 2015, Japan was the only country with 30% sexagenarians. Life is more like a marathon than a 100-meter sprint. “And nobody wins a marathon without strategy, practice, preparation and purpose,” said Kalache.
In France, it took 135 years to double the population of old people. In emerging countries, like Brazil, this process took just 20 years. The speed at which life expectancy increases – and with it a number of old people – is not the same as the advancement of public, social and economic policies to adapt to new times. Markets will have to adapt. For example, real estate ventures, that advertise developments with playgrounds, will have to think about new features to attract buyers.
Aging does not only affect families. Longevity has an impact on all sectors of society. In the United States, the baby boomer generation (people born between 1940 and 1960) concentrate 70% of the country’s wealth. In Brazil, it’s not much different. “Who can afford to buy a luxury car?”, he asked the audience. “Only those over 50.”
Not everyone reaches late adulthood with the same capacity. “Throughout life, you lose assets, capital and suffer a series of obstacles that could have been avoided if there had been better planning,” said Kalache. High blood pressure, obesity and lack of exercising can lead to a stroke, for example. Time and quality of life are not the same for the chronically ill and healthy individuals.
Individual strategy. “The problem is not age, but everything that came before old age arrived. Having a life perspective becomes indispensable,” he said. There are four key factors in planning for old age that maintain individuals above the “threshold of dependence”:
1. caring for one’s health;
2. acquiring more and more knowledge;
3. cultivating social friendships;
4. having a reasonable financial situation.
According to the specialist, these are the factors for being resilient and coping with the impacts of life. “The economy is tough, but the sooner we are able to take on these factors, the better,” said Kalache. If you haven’t done anything until you were in your 60s? No problem. It’s never too late to start.
Click here to watch the full lecture.