10,000 Centenarians in Spain
According to a recent survey carried out by the Spanish National Institute for Statistics there are around 10,000 centenarians in Spain today. Many claim to be in better health than their children, now in their eighties.
There are some hundred-year-olds in very good health who are biologically strong, who have survived some very difficult times over the last century. However, the loss of autonomy and dependence on others in order to maintain a minimum quality of life is quite high according to Rodríguez Mañas, a geriatric doctor and member of the Spanish Society for Geriatric Medicine (SEMEG).
There are now over 7 million people in Spain over 65 years old. Life expectancy for women is 83.8 years, the highest in Europe, while for men it is 77.2 years. This figure keeps on rising which means that in the future Spain will have one of the oldest populations in the world and according to Rodríguez Mañas one out of every four elderly people could develop dependency a figure which could rise to 50% for 80 year olds.
Rodríguez Mañas says that the main problem of old age is functional deterioration and the loss of autonomy – 80% of loss of physical capability is down to fragility and loss of muscle mass which is why prevention is extremely important. Doing some type of physical activity everyday such as walking for 45 minutes, lifting small weights and a healthy diet all contribute to remaining healthy in old age. Rodríguez Mañas, also called for the creation of more state-funded old peoples’ homes in order to cope with an ageing population and the needs of the elderly.