(Online Research)


Disruptive Demographics and the Future of the World Population Until 2060

“Disruptive forces are growing in complexity, velocity and impact. One of the slower moving forces is demographics and this force is now a growing tsunami which will crash on the shores of both developed and developing economies. No region or country will be immune to the impact of demographic disruption over the next 50 years. We are entering a period unlike anything ever experienced before in the history of humanity.

[…] This is a brave new world and when it comes to demographics the future is happening right in front of us. Demographics is a trend that can be accurately tracked and projections easily made. Alarmingly though, the implications of changing demographics as a disruptive force is often overlooked by business leaders. This is a concern because as there are growing challenges there are also opportunities for astute future facing leaders who understand how disruptive demographics will impact their business models as well as their markets to make considerable gains.”

Will 90 Become The New 60?

“Immortality: Trust us, you wouldn’t like it.

It’s a comforting message, in a sour-grapes sort of way. It sounds wise and mature, suggesting that we put aside childish dreams and accept once and for all that there can be no vital Veg-O-Matic that slices mortality and dices infirmity. Gerontologists like it, being particularly eager to put on a respectable front and escape the whiff of snake oil that clings to the field of life extension.

In 1946 the newly founded Gerontological Society of America cited, in the first article of the first issue of its Journal of Gerontology, the need to concern ourselves to add “not more years to life, but more life to years.” The dictum was famously sharpened 15 years later by Robert Kennedy when he told the delegates at the first White House Conference on Aging “We have added years to life; it is time to think about how we add life to years.” Political theorist and futurist Francis Fukuyama was particularly eloquent but hardly alone when he warned two decades ago that if we maintain our obsession with extending life at all costs, society may “increasingly come to resemble a giant nursing home.”’

Millennials are old news; meet The Midults

“A new media brand launching this week, The Midult, believes it has the answer: the neglected 35- to 55-year-old female demographic, AKA the Midults.

They are successful, digitally-literate Generation X-ers who are bored by Agas, obsessed with Instagram and boast a large disposable income. Crucially, their motivations and desires are misunderstood or completely ignored by many of the brands they naturally gravitate to.”

Robots are ready and welcome to assist the elderly

“If you were given the option of robotic or human help to perform mundane household tasks, which would you choose?

According to a study by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, a surprising number of people aged 65 to 93 years would opt for the former. While they still preferred human care for personal tasks, such as bathing, dressing and eating, participants who were shown a video of a robot’s capabilities would be happy to let a machine clean the kitchen, do laundry or take out the trash.

With the World Health Organisation predicting that by 2050, 22 per cent of the world’s population will be 60-plus years old, scientists in tech labs all over the globe are trying to figure out what role robotics may play in the home of the future, especially those of the elderly.”


Forget Millennials—Why You Should Hire Someone Over 55

“The senior director of content at NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based financial information website, has made a point of seeking out experienced hires since she joined the company in 2013. She was “immediately at least 15 years older than most people” at the roughly 50-person firm, which has since grown to more than 300 people.

“When considering applicants, we look for candidates with experience at outlets with high standards. This tends to include older people, because they often spent years working to reach that level,” she says. Since her arrival, Leung has added about a dozen people over age 55 to her team.”

MIT’s Invisible Second Skin Cream Makes Wrinkles Disappear

“Every cosmetics company on the planet has a product it claims will reduce wrinkles and erase the signs of aging, but researchers at MIT have developed a genuine facelift-in-a-tube with a new cream that creates an extra layer of invisible artificial skin to smooth out the wearer’s natural skin.

Researchers at MIT and Harvard developed the underlying science for the material, and a private biotechnology company called Living Proof manufactured the film itself. The so-called XPL (short for cross-linked polymer layer) is applied in a simple two-step process that creates rather miraculous results. The first layer is made up of polysiloxane components, while the second is a platinum catalyst that causes those polymers in the first to connect and form a strong film that can withstand washing and other wear and tear, for up to 24 hours. The research was published today in Nature Materials.”



The policy of aging and death

“In discussions of scientific research, the topics of science policy and advocacy—the means of funding, regulating, and spreading scientific advances to the general public—are often neglected. Last month at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Public Advocacy Forum “Policy Implications for the Science of Aging and End of Life,” these issues were front and center. The forum included a diverse panel addressing economic and public health policy issues surrounding aging and death.

In a press release last month, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging warned of an “imminent national crisis” in our ability to support the rapidly growing older (aged 65 years+) population in the U.S. Recent cuts in federal funding stand to worsen conditions for the already vulnerable group. With the global 65+ population now at the largest percentage of total population in history, and steadily increasing, efforts are in place in the U.S. and around the world to invest in the health and independence of an older global community.”

Is this the future of elderly care? Clever droids look after lonely pensioners at Chinese care home – by feeding them medicine and singing them opera

“A nursing home for the elderly has introduced fully-automated robotic assistants to provide a variety of useful services for the grateful residents.

The fleet of cute droids arrived at the home in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, east China and impressed the elderly guests with their uses, reported People’s Daily Online.

Their remarkable range of functions the robots, given the name ‘Little Iron’, include the ability to monitor life vitals, converse with residents and dish out medicine.”

Ageism and Creativity

“Psychologists generally consider creativity to be the domain of the young. In this they have followed the lead of Harvey Lehman, who in 1953 conceded that “the old usually possess greater wisdom and erudition,” but claimed that “when a situation requires a new way of looking at things…the old seem stereotyped and rigid.”

Lehman and his successors are guilty of ageism: in this case, a mistaken belief that creativity is inversely related to age. Mark Twain knew better. For Twain, experience was what brought fiction to life, and could only be the product of deep knowledge of a subject: “Almost the whole capital of the novelist is the slow accumulation of unconscious observation.” The writer also needed experience of his craft: “Every man must learn his trade…by slow and painful processes.” The novelist Wright Morris compared Twain’s growth to the skill of a ship’s captain, observing that he “learned to write the way a river pilot learns the feel of a channel.”

Human Longevity Inc can use only DNA to accurately predict what you look and sound like

“One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies has launched a massive effort to compile genome sequences and health records from two million people over the next decade. In doing so, AstraZeneca and its collaborators hope to unearth rare genetic sequences that are associated with disease and with responses to treatment.

It’s an unprecedented number of participants for this type of study, says Ruth March, vice-president and head of personalized health care and biomarkers at AstraZeneca, which is headquartered in London. “That’s necessary because we’re going to be looking for very rare differences among individuals.”

To achieve that ambitious goal, AstraZeneca will partner with research institutions including the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, and Human Longevity, a biotechnology company founded in San Diego, California, by genomics pioneer Craig Venter. AstraZeneca also expects to draw on data from 500,000 participants in its own clinical trials, and medical samples that it has accrued over the past 15 years.”

Aging in America: The Two Cultures

“Back in pre-disruptive times, aging for professionals was a predictable experience: We retired. That was it. If we still talked about working we were written off as living in the past. Neighbors rolled their eyes. Then ducked us. After all, we were making a poor adjustment to the golden years.

That was then.

Aging & Working

Now, so many of us aging have the financial pressure to continue working. There is the real possibility that we will run out of money. It’s shrewd to scramble to prevent that by ensuring earned income continues to come in.

In addition, we have witnessed how the retired become invisible and isolated. At social events, the glad-handing is with those still in the game. This is capitalism. You are what you do. The exceptions are those with great personal wealth who can maintain an identity of philanthropist or socialite.

The Anti-Aging Manifesto

“A spectre is haunting the human race — the spectre of aging. It has reigned for so long that something even worse has happened…we truly believe it is unbeatable. We truly believe everyone must die one day and almost everyone before 100 years old. It has gotten even worse than that. It is so bad, some of us even believe there is something noble and necessary about dying. We speak of overcrowding and limited resources. It is not the fact that death is relentless and we can’t beat it, it is actually that we NEED death and it is a good thing for the survival of the human race. With this mentality, it indeed cannot get any worse than this.

Scientifically it will be very difficult to defeat aging and age related degeneration of our bodies and eventually death. However, we have the scientific tools, resources, and right people to work on anti-aging. Most importantly, we must first start with changing our attitude towards aging and death, as a society. We must separate some key concepts. Experience is great. Aging is not. Older people are great. The fact that they need to get much older is not. This is not about physical appearance. Anti-aging is about being able to enjoy life at full capacity for as long as you want.”




Human Longevity Just Got Some Serious Investment

“Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI), a company creating the world’s largest and most comprehensive database of whole genome, phenotype and clinical data, has completed its offering of Series B Preferred Stock, where it raised more than $220 million. It has previously raised $80 million in its Series A offering, which closed in Summer 2014.

Those who took part in the Series B financing of the company include Illumina, Celgene, GE Ventures, and Series A investors from all over the world based in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Mexico, Australia, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and China, in addition to the US.”

7 Tough Questions You Should Ask Your Aging Parents

“Talking about the future can be hard. It can evoke anxiety in even the most calm of us when we start to think about all the unknowns and all the things that might happen. These discussions can get even harder when it’s not our future we’re talking about, but rather someone else’s. However difficult it may be, there are some questions that we need to have answers to when it comes to our aging parents and it is wise to have these conversations sooner rather than later. In this vein, here are 7 questions that you should talk to your aging parents about as soon as you can.”

The Struggle to Promote Family in an Aging Europe

Europe is facing an incredible challenge, evident in the demographic trends for decades now: our societies are aging. The equation is this simple: fewer people are born in most countries of Europe than die each year. Hungary is no exception.

To address the issues of Europe’s aging and population decline, 50 experts from around the world met up in Hungary earlier this month at the Budapest Demographic Forum. All of them emphasized the importance of traditional families in combating our continent’s demographic time bomb.”

Prolonging Independence: Aging at Home

“As family ties in the western world weaken, elders age alone. With age come mild conditions that render personal care increasingly difficult. The traditional solutions involve either retirement homes, or having a care provider at home. In addition, systems appear that provide e-care at home.

Retirement homes offer many advantages. They make the lives of elderly people more enjoyable by offering around the clock supervision, expert on-site medical care and individualized help with daily needs. They provide a structured environment, with a daily schedule for normal life, which is especially needed if the care recipient is mentally or physically disabled. The care recipients remain as independent as possible, keeping on with their usual independent life style. Finally, they help the families deal with the logistics of elderly care, without having to disrupt their lives. On the other hand retirement homes can be quite expensive and may not be covered by insurance policies. There are quality issues with the staff being under-qualified or unwilling to work closely with the families. Finally there are acceptance problems from the care recipient side, with the elderly being reluctant to change environment (home, neighborhood and friends), facing strained personal relations in the retirement home and feeling neglected by their families.”

Nova maneira de medir a idade mostra que idosos pensam e reagem cada vez mais rápido

“Dois estudos publicados recentemente mostram que homens e mulheres com mais de 50 anos apresentam desempenho cada vez melhor em testes de função cognitiva (avaliam aprendizagem, memória e velocidade do raciocínio, por exemplo) do que pessoas da mesma idade no passado.

Os pesquisadores acreditam que essa tendência pode estar associada a taxas maiores de indivíduos que cursam o ensino superior e ao crescimento do uso da tecnologia na vida diária. O trabalho foi publicado na revista científica PloS ONE. 

A conclusão está baseada em dados obtidos na Alemanha por um estudo que mensurou a velocidade de processamento cognitivo, aptidão física e saúde mental primeiramente em 2006 e depois em 2012. Foram analisados indivíduos saudáveis.

O que os pesquisadores viram foi um aumento significativo dos bons resultados em seis anos para homens e mulheres com idade entre 50 a 90 anos. No entanto, a saúde física e mental principalmente entre homens com baixa escolaridade e idade entre 50 e 64 anos.”

Robots serve elderly in E China nursing home

“In the Hangzhou City social welfare center in east China’s Zhejiang Province, five robots remind 1,300 seniors when to take their medicine.

“The average age of these seniors is over 84,” Zhao Huming, vice director of the center, told Xinhua on Wednesday. “They often forget to take their medicine, or they take it twice.”

The robots are programmed to “remember” medication schedules for seniors and nursing home workers. They send messages to remind them when it is time to take the pills.

“They make our work a lot easier,” Zhao said.

The robots were developed by Woosiyuan Telecom Technology Co. Ltd. and are in trial operation. The “A-Tie” robots, whose name literally means “iron,” are 0.8 meters tall and weigh 15 kilograms, similar to a two- or three-year-old human. They have round bodies and heads sprouting two antennae.

The robots are controlled by mobile phone app or touch screens, and they can do much more than remind patients to take their medicine. They can be used to make video calls, virtual consultations, or watch television.”

Revolution Aging

“The U.S. population will radically grow older over the next decades. Much of this aging is due to the baby boom generation moving into the ranks of the 65 and over population. As we near 2050, we expect that the oldest age categories will grow in both: numbers and proportions.

In 15 years, the number of seniors will double (100% growth)

This changing age structure of the population will radically change our society because we will see people in large numbers that have needs that our current system is not able to match. We will have more people that need (and deserve) help to engage with their communities and some assistance to live happy and healthy as they age.”

You Say You Want an Aging Revolution?

“Back in June 2000, I grabbed the newest issue of TIME magazine from an airport newsstand. One of the articles teased on the cover had an arresting title: “Twilight of the Boomers.”

The generation at that point ranged in age from 36 to 54.

Twilight? Really?

Boomers were then in the peak years of middle age, hardly time for a twilight. I kept reading to discover one disparaging assertion after another.

Daniel Okrent, the author, had written a jeremiad insisting that Boomers had nothing left to anticipate but a teeth-chattering downhill thrill ride. In a baby buggy. To oblivion.

Sixteen years later, the aging of the Boomer generation continues to inspire critics, cynics, and doomsayers as acknowledged by a continuing parade of media articles brimming with disaster forecasts.”

Anti-ageing breakthrough as scientists find enzyme for youthful skin

“Powerful anti-ageing treatments which banish wrinkles for good are a step closer after scientists found the enzyme responsible for youthful skin

For the first time, scientists at Newcastle University have discovered that ‘mitochondrial complex II’ stops working properly as people grow older.

The enzyme is found in the batteries of cells – the mitochondria – and is crucial for keeping skin smooth, supple and plumped up.

Now that they know what is responsible for youthful skin, scientists believe they will be able to create treatments and cosmetics which increase the activity of the enzyme, and restore lost vitality.”

Brasil não se preparou para cuidar da população idosa, diz geriatra

“O Brasil não se preparou para o envelhecimento de sua população e não tem estruturas adequadas para garantir dignidade e autonomia aos idosos, de acordo com avaliação da presidenta do Departamento de Gerontologia da Sociedade Brasileira de Geriatria e Gerontologia, Maria Angélica Sanchez. Ela alerta que um dos reflexos da falta de condições adequadas de moradia e de sobrevivência são os episódios de agressão aos mais velhos.

De acordo com ela, não faltam políticas brasileiras para garantir o bem-estar do idoso. No entanto, leis como a Política Nacional do Idoso, de 1994, e o Estatuto do Idoso, de 2003, não foram colocadas em prática pelos governos municipais, estaduais e federal.

“No Brasil, o arcabouço legal é avançado, mas o país envelheceu sem estar preparado”, disse Maria Angélica à Agência Brasil nesta segunda-feira (15), quando se comemora o Dia Mundial de Combate à Violência contra o Idoso.”


Why Baby Boomers Refuse To Retire

“Five years ago, in 2011, the first wave of the oldest U.S. baby boomers reached the common retirement age of 65. Since then, another 10,000 each day continue to reach this stage in their lives. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates that by 2020, 55.9 million people in the U.S. will be age 65 or older, and by 2030, that number will reach 72.7 million.

How will all these aging boomers thrive in the 21st century? According to many experts on aging, it’s increasingly by staying in the workforce, at the very least on a part-time basis. As noted by Gallup in their “Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire” report, “Nearly half of boomers still working say they don’t expect to retire until they are 66 or older, including one in 10 who predict they will never retire.”

Japanese ‘robot with a heart’ will care for the elderly and children

“Japanese technology giant SoftBank has unveiled a robot they claim is capable of understanding human emotions using an “emotional engine” and cloud-based AI.

Standing roughly a metre tall with a tablet computer fixed to its chest, ‘Pepper’ will go on sale to the public next year for 198,000 yen (£1,150), with its creators hoping it will be using in a range of roles from caring from the elderly to baby-sitting.

“People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart,” SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said at a news conference.”

This cuddly Japanese robot bear could be the future of elderly care

“Deep in the bowels of a secluded facility outside the central Japanese city of Nagoya, a team of dedicated researchers has been working on a monster. It’s a primal, animalistic robot that uses advanced technology to power its intelligent vision, flexible movement, and giant arms strong enough to lift a human right off the ground. It could have profound implications for the relationship between man and machine.

But perhaps most importantly, it is very cute.

Meet Robear. It’s a high-tech teddy with a mission: helping make elderly care much easier in the future.”


Why Robots Are the Future of Elder Care

“It’s no secret that Japan is facing severe socio-economic pressures due to its aging, shrinking population. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of elder care. Many in the nation are aging out of their working years, without enough children born to replace them in the workforce. This means elder care will require an increasing amount of resources and workers out of a progressively smaller total pool. As of 2012, 22 percent of Japan was already over 65 and by 2060 the government expects the population to shrink from 127 million people to 87 million, as the over-65 demographic grows to almost 40 percent of the nation. In 2010, Japan already had 30 million elderly and infirm individuals in care facilities, but had substantially fewer than the projected 2 million caregivers needed to look after them—and turnover amongst those employees was already 17 percent per year.”

It’s time to measure 21st century aging with 21st century tools

“The populations of most countries of the world are aging, prompting a deluge of news stories about slower economic growth, reduced labor force participation, looming pension crises, exploding health care costs and the reduced productivity and cognitive functioning of the elderly.

These stories are dire, in part because the most widely used measure of aging – the old-age dependency ratio, which measures the number of older dependents relative to working-age people – was developed a century ago and implies the consequences of aging will be much worse than they are likely to be. On top of that, this ratio is used in political and economic discussions of topics such as health care costs and the pension burden – things it was not designed to address.

Turning 65 in 2016 doesn’t mean the same thing as hitting 65 in 1916. So instead of relying on the old-age dependency ratio to figure out the impact of aging, we propose using a series of new measures that take changes in life expectancy, labor participation and health spending into account. When you take these new realities into account, the picture looks a lot brighter.”

O preço da velhice no Brasil (II)

“Nove milhões de idosos foram incluídos na sociedade brasileira no espaço de tempo da última década. É muita coisa. Neste período, inúmeras iniciativas foram tomadas pelo estado e são bem-vindas. “Mas ainda há um descompasso entre elas e a realidade”, diz, com razão, o médico Renato Veras, especialista em envelhecimento da população, idealizador e diretor-geral da Universidade da Terceira Idade (Unati), da Uerj, com mais de dois mil alunos maiores de 60 anos de idade e com cursos para cuidadores de idosos e outros profissionais da área. Para Veras, a situação de vulnerabilidade dos mais velhos, hoje, é até mais complexa do que antes, quando eles eram praticamente invisíveis aos olhos do estado. Hoje, há menos nascimentos e as mortes são adiadas. O número de contribuintes diminui e o de beneficiários aumenta enquanto o país tem 24,85 milhões de brasileiros com mais de 50 anos de idade.”


Gene linked to youthful appearance may help solve ageing puzzle

“How long you live depends in part on the genes you inherit. For example, those suffering from Werner’s syndrome have inherited two defective copies of a gene coding for an enzyme that is involved in DNA replication and repair.

A lack of this enzyme produces premature cell senescence – the build up of dysfunctional cells as we age which causes damage to tissue – and elevated levels of inflammatory proteins. The end result is the early development of many conditions seen in older people, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, grey hair, wrinkled skin and shrinkage of the thymus. Werner’s syndrome is perhaps the nearest thing we will ever see to true accelerated ageing.”

Se você parece mais velho, a culpa é sua

“Cada vez que me dizem que sou muito velho para fazer alguma coisa, faço imediatamente”, disse Picasso, que morreu com mais de 90 anos em plena capacidade criativa. Talvez, sem sabê-lo, tenha colocado em prática uma das maneiras mais eficazes de lutar contra a deterioração da idade: manter-se ativo. Hoje, ser nonagenário já não é excepcional; e dentro de 30 anos será normal. Impulsionada pela necessidade psicológica e física de se chegar à velhice sem decrepitude e escorada por novas modalidades científicas, a medicina antiaging é sem dúvida a rainha das terapias do novo século. Mas funciona? Conseguiremos ser jovens com 80 anos, parar o envelhecimento?

Durante os séculos, a busca da eterna juventude tem sido uma constante em todas as civilizações, mas todos as tentativas foram em vão. A imortalidade não é humana. Hoje, o realismo científico tomou o lugar da magia de antigamente, mas a busca continua. Pesquisadores de todas as vertentes tentam encontrar o gene ou genes da longevidade, descobrir o porquê da deterioração física e mental, decifrar a bioquímica hormonal e explicar as razões que irremediavelmente nos levam à morte. Envelhecer, por enquanto, não tem cura; entretanto, como disse o ator Martin Held, “todo mundo quer chegar à velhice, mas ninguém quer ser velho”. E diante da encantadora perspectiva de passar dos 80 trazida pela expectativa de vida ocidental, todas as áreas científicas envolvidas abriram um novo caminho de pesquisa no qual o estudo do envelhecimento é rei.”


Japan offers us many lessons in embracing longevity

“Japan is famous for the longevity of its citizens. A quarter of its population is older than 65. That is a proportion that Australia is likely to reach only by 2056. Japan’s experience makes it an interesting example to learn from in the area of aged care.

In 2000, following a decade of stagnant growth, mounting public debt and skyrocketing hospitalisation, Japan introduced the Long-Term Care Insurance Scheme (LTCIS). This universal and compulsory scheme provides support to assess and deliver care through institutional or community-based services for all people over 65. It provides sufficient funds to allow everyone to age in place – even those in public housing and with late-onset dementia.

The scheme represents one of the boldest social democratic experiments in aged care policy in the last 30 years. Yet with bold experiments come surprises.”

Sustainable employment and the ageing workforce: lessons learned from the Dutch

“As populations in OECD countries continue rapidly to age, the increasing imbalance between those young enough to work and those old enough to receive the pension is sounding alarm bells. By 2050, the “old age support ratio” is expected to halve; in Australia there will be only 2.3 people of working age to support each person of retirement age.

Understandably, governments facing the fiscal nightmare of increasing pensions and decreasing revenue are trying to keep people in the workforce for longer. Policies that actively discourage early retirement by, for example, raising the pension age are common.

While there is little question that such policies are necessary from the economic standpoint, it is less certain that older people will stand to benefit from working longer, even if they are able to.”

DNA clock helps predict lifespan

Four independent studies tracked the lives of almost 5,000 older people for up to 14 years. Each person’s biological age was measured from a blood sample at the outset, and participants were followed up throughout the study.

Researchers found that the link between having a faster-running biological clock and early death held true even after accounting for other factors such as smoking, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Riccardo Marioni of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, said “The same results in four studies indicated a link between the biological clock and deaths from all causes. At present, it is not clear what lifestyle or genetic factors influence a person’s biological age. We have several follow-up projects planned to investigate this in detail.”

The secret to staying young? Scientists boost lifespan of mice by deleting defective cells

“The ageing population is one of the greatest challenges facing society. More people are surviving to old age than ever before, but we currently lack the means to keep them healthy and independent. If a treatment existed to reduce sickness and death from ageing by 20% then between now and 2050, the US alone would save US$4 trillion on healthcare costs – enough money to give everyone on Earth clean drinking water for the next three decades.

However a landmark new study, published in Nature, raises hopes that such a treatment will be possible. The researchers managed to increase the lifespan of mice by an impressive 25% by deleting “senescent” cells, dysfunctional cells which build up as we age and cause damage to tissue. Crucially, the mice lived longer because they were healthier

The accidental discovery of how to stay young for longer

“Living longer usually means a longer dotage, but wouldn’t it be enticing to extend young adulthood instead? It’s such an appealing prospect that scientists who are announcing success with roundworms are keen to be clear they are a long way from achieving it in humans.

“We don’t want people to get the impression they can take the drug we used in our study to extend their own teens or early twenties,” says lead author Michael Petrascheck from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), California.

Velhice sem tabus: quase 3 milhões de idosos moram sozinhos no Brasil

“Os anos passam, a nossa pirâmide etária — aquela que mede a população por faixa etária e que tem na base os mais jovens — já está em vias de se tornar um retângulo e, ainda assim, envelhecer segue um tabu. Envelhecer livre e solitariamente, então, deve causar discussões quase tão inflamadas quanto o futebol. O que fazer com os idosos que, indo cada vez mais longe em seus aniversários e com saúde sobrando — graças aos avanços da medicina —, escolhem simplesmente seguir a vida sozinhos e independentes, ignorando os clichês de se abrigarem em asilos ou em quartos nas casas dos filhos? O assunto rende. O que é óbvio, embora às vezes difícil de enxergar, é que a velhice será cada vez mais uma realidade presente, basta acompanhar os cálculos sobre a expectativa de vida do homem. No último 2 de dezembro, o Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) atualizou os dados: hoje, os brasileiros vivem, em média, 74,6 anos, exatamente cinco meses e 12 dias a mais que em 2011.”

Eternamente jovens?

“Qual é o maior fator de risco para contrair doenças mortais? O tabaco, a radiação ultravioleta do sol, o sedentarismo, encher-se de açúcar? Nada disso: é o envelhecimento. Por essa razão, e porque a expectativa média de vida está aumentando nos países ocidentais e nas potências emergentes, a Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) prevê que o número de pessoas que sofrem das doenças da idade —infarto, câncer e neurodegeneração— vai dobrar nas próximas duas décadas. Que vantagem tem, então, viver cada vez mais?

A pergunta esconde uma armadilha. A expectativa média de vida, de fato, está aumentando nos países ocidentais a uma taxa de dois anos e meio por década, 25 anos por século. Mas a principal causa disso são as melhoras progressivas no tratamento do infarto, que continua sendo o grande açougueiro das sociedades desenvolvidas. Como assinalou repetidamente Valentín Fuster, diretor do Centro Nacional de Pesquisas Cardiovasculares (CNIC), esses métodos são caros e pouco eficazes, porque raramente devolvem ao infartado a qualidade de vida que tinha antes. Nosso principal truque para viver mais não conduz a um futuro sustentável.”


[…] lembre o que disse o filósofo suíço do século XIX, Henri-Frédéric Amiel: “Envelhecer é a obra-prima da vida”. Ou o que disse Chesterton: “Vou envelhecer para tudo, para o amor, para a mentira, mas nunca envelhecerei para o assombro”. E me permitam completar a citação amputada que ofereci de Borges no início: “Converter o ultraje dos anos em música, rumor e símbolo”. Longa vida ao leitor.