More and more people are entering their 100s. And their increase in coming years will be hugely significant. The Spanish National Statistics Institute estimates that in Spain the figures will rise from the 12,551 people aged over a 100 in the current census to 217,344 in 2070.
Longevity has become the focus of many research projects in the endeavour to find the magic potion for longer and better life. But what's the recipe for reaching 100? What's life like during that time?
Genetics, diet and a healthy lifestyle, cognitive health, active leisure, resilience and social relations are the keys mentioned most in the studies. There are also places with a surprising number of people over the age of 100. These are the world's so-called "blue zones": Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), the Nicoya Peninsula, Ikaria Island (Greece) and Loma Linda (California).
Today, as a result of COVID-19, the oldest among us have been thrown into the media spotlight. We have learned that as humans we are vulnerable and interdependent beings; but do we accept and recognise the value of vulnerability and the contribution these people make to the common good? What are the social expectations related to old age in a context of demographic, social, economic, cultural, technological, political change... like the one we are living? Do we value the experience of elderly people and the need to create environments in which people can age and develop their life goals with sense and meaning?
The challenge is important and certainly means learning to build societies that guarantee the exercising of citizenship by all people and throughout their whole life cycle.