health

As more people live to 100, how should we care for them?

By Eoghan Macguire

Published August 27, 2018

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The number of people who live to 100 may be relatively small, but it's becoming more common -- particularly in countries like Japan, which has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world.

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Some centenarians offer tips for living to 100

  • Get plenty of exercise

  • Live in a mild climate

  • Have a healthy sex life

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Beyond tips for individuals, policymakers in Japan have begun to look at how to cater to those who make it to the 100 club -- and what they find could be of use to the rest of the world in the years to come.

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Here's what they found:

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Living longer creates practical challenges, such as a burden on the state to provide services, pensions and care for elderly people.

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In Japan, this is compounded by a low birth rate. There are fewer people of working age to pay for services for the elderly through taxes. Other countries could have similar issues.

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The Japanese government has proposed extending the mandatory retirement age for civil servants from 60 to 65. It has also spoken of encouraging "recurrent education," helping people retrain throughout their careers, as well as enabling those who want to work into the later years to do so.

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Job-sharing, flexible working patterns and telecommuting can all play a part in helping more people stay in the workplace longer.

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Artificial intelligence and robotics can help seniors compensate for qualities such as strength or flexibility, said Professor Hiroko Akiyama of the University of Tokyo's Institute of Gerontology

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But there could also be opportunity within the challenges of an aging society.

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Some businesses may open fitness clubs catering to the elderly, and robot carers may end up in some health facilities and nursing homes.

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And people must individually do a better job of planning for their financial futures with longer lives in mind, experts say.

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People have got to be much more proactive ... [and] more savvy about what the future is going to be like.

Lynda Gratton

professor of management practice at London Business School and co-author of the book "The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity."

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