Advances in medicine and healthy lifestyles have improved the quality of life of the elderly population.
Medical Advisor Dr. Maria Francisca Echeverri – Geriatrician
Decades ago, there were very few people who could celebrate their 80th birthdays, and even less who could celebrate their 100th birthdays. Since the last century, however, this situation has been changing thanks to the many advances in medicine and to the awareness people have of their health care.
Each year, the elderly population increases around the world and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a quarter of this population from throughout the world, excluding Africa, will be over 60 by the year 2050, nearly double what it is now. The WHO also estimates that the population in their eighties will triple by this date.
“Vaccines, using antibiotics properly, different medical treatments, making exercise part of your life, leading a healthy diet, having access to drinking water and a healthy environment have all led to much healthier living conditions that allow us to live longer,” explains geriatrician, Maria Francisca Echeverri.
This phenomenon brings significant opportunities to all societies, especially for the elderly, as the idea is that the longer they live, the better quality of life, health, independence and dignity they will have. “As the number of people who live to be much older increases, the more people there are that do it the right way. The idea is to do everything possible to make everyone age this way,” says Dr. Echeverri.
Different factors influence how you age. There are uncontrollable factors – which have to do with genetics, age-related changes and certain diseases – and there are those you can act upon such as those related to the environment, lifestyle and each person’s state of mind. “A pessimistic person or someone who gives up easily may live for many years, but not in an enjoyable way,” Dr. Echeverri explains.
Therefore, by adopting a balanced lifestyle, life after age 60 will be just as enjoyable as any other stage of life, even if the patient has a medical condition. “While you may get diagnosed with high blood pressure, that does not mean that you should stay at home sitting in your house. Blood pressure is something you can control and live a normal life with. The same goes for diabetes or other conditions,” our geriatrician states.
For those who want to start life after 60 in a healthy way, it is important to know that “It is never too late to start. Whether we are 8 or 80, we can all build a better future. Any action that we take, regardless of our age, is important to living a good life in the years that lie ahead,” she concludes.
With the increase in life expectancy, the percentage of people older than 60 increased in the world. In Colombia, according to the DANE (Colombia’s government statistics agency), this percentage rose by 13.4%.
Taking care of yourself is worth it!
To have a good quality of life in old age, pay attention to the following areas:
- The body: Do 20 to 40 minutes of exercise on a daily basis, depending on your capabilities. Activities with rhythm to them are ideal such as dancing, swimming, doing movements in the water and walking.
- The mind: Reading or doing simple or complex math problems with exercises such as Sudoku keeps the brain active. Analyzing movies, TV shows or the news is also a great mental exercise.
- Emotions: Having a positive and proactive attitude during old age is key. Set boundaries with family members for schedules, preferences and interests, etc. Stay in contact with groups of friends or colleagues to spend time together.