Old age is a political and social factor

Athlos final General Assembly meeting 27-28th of January, 2020 in Brussels
Athlos final General Assembly meeting 27-28th of January, 2020 in Brussels

Do people in the healthiest countries live the longest? The answer is no, according to the Athlos metrics.

Athlos project proposes a new definition of old age based on health of population. This has its consequences: to change the thresholds of old age. No single health threshold makes sense: countries can define their own. Athlos has 3 recommendations addressed to these thresholds. The project’s researchers propose a new definition of old age, as well as clinical and public health interventions to optimize healthy ageing. A single metric of health has been created for that purpose. “Athlos had this vision of having the metrics harmonised” explains Athlos researcher Dr Warren C. Sanderson, Professor at the Department of Economics and History at State University of New York at Stony Brook and Senior Research Scholar with the World Population Program at IIASA, Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital.

This new definition needs a social construction: what does it mean to be old? The question is, what can you do in your life? As healthy ageing has already been debated, the definition is the new topic in the debate. “Old age is a political and social factor: people become older due to environmental factors” according to Athlos researcher Matilde Leonardi, from the Besta Institute in Italy. “The best situation is dying healthy so you don’t cost money to your country, from a health system point of view” explains the project’s coordinator, Josep María Haro from Spain.

ATHLOS held the project’s final General Assembly meeting in Brussels last Monday-Tuesday 27-28 January 2020, hosting an open conference on demographic scenarios and healthy ageing policies co-organized by AGE Platform Europe and ATHLOS held at the European Parliament.

Old age is a political and social factor