The world is headed to a bombastic revolution. Pay attention to the numbers. It’s estimated that, during the next 35 years, the older population in the world will continue to exceed the younger population. But the elderly will quadruple in countries still considered young – which includes Brazil, China, India, Egypt, Turkey and Costa Rica between 2017 and 2050.
In many places, people are living longer like never before. It’s estimated that the population of seniors over 100 years is on the rise and should reach 18 million in 2100. For example, in the United Kingdom alone, the population of centenarians has basically been doubling every 10 years since 1950. Canadian researcher Sonia Arrison, in her book 100 Plus, points to the fact that some babies born today may reach 150 years.
On the other hand, this occurs at a time in which we know more than ever about long, happy and healthy life. The understanding and amount of information about aging and longevity continue to multiply. For example, innovative research by Dan Buettner, in the United States, identified five geographic areas – Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa Islands (Japan), Loma Linda (California), Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica) and Ikaria (Greece) –, baptized as Blue Zones, which have the highest concentration of centenarians. Buettner identified nine points in common between the inhabitants of these areas. The main ones are practicing physical activity throughout the day, having a purpose in life, being surrounded by friends and family and following a mainly vegetarian diet.
All this knowledge may help improve the centenarian population’s quality of life, also reducing public spending on healthcare. It’s known that the elderly are more susceptible to diseases and interment. One of government’s challenges is precisely to have resources to care for this population, which is not productive – but, if research helps, could become and in a very healthy way.