"El arte de envejecer es el arte de conservar alguna esperanza. "
WHAT DOES THE END OF LIFE LIKE?
End-of-life decisions vary drastically across cultures. Some societies do everything possible to keep their elderly alive. Other groups, however, see old and frail members as a burden, and thus take steps to end their lives. In his talk, Diamond notes that eldercide typically happens in communities that are either nomadic, or that live in harsh climates with limited resources.
According to a study in American Ethnologist, the Chukchi of Siberia practice voluntary death, in which an old person requests to die at the hand of a close relative when they are no longer in good health. And in The World Since Yesterday, Diamond notes that the Crow Indians in the US and Norse tribes in Scandinavia follow similar practices — the elderly put themselves in an impossible situation, like setting out to sea on a solo voyage. Finally, the Ache of Paraguay let their men wander off to die on the “white man’s road,” and — perhaps shockingly to some — they kill elderly women by breaking their necks.
On the flip side, the curious Greek island of Ikaria seems to have life-extending magic in its soil, notes The New York Times. Residents of this small Mediterranean island are four times more likely than their American counterparts to live to 90, and they live on average 8 to 10 years longer after being diagnosed with cancer or cardiovascular disease. Its residents don’t rush through life: they stay up late, eating Kalamata olives, drinking mountain tea and swimming in the crystal-clear water. The answer to this island’s longevity probably lies in its eating patterns and relaxed lifestyle, but nobody can definitively explain the magic behind this island of centenarians.
THE BEST CONTRIES TO GROW OLD
Of the best countries for older people, Norway is easily the wealthiest, and it has been for several years. The high GDP per capita and overall prosperity relies heavily on the country’s large oil reserves in the North Sea. Norway introduced its universal rights-based pension long before its economy became so prosperous.
Norwegians qualify for pension coverage before the age of 65, and nearly every older person receives a pension check. Supplementing income from the government with employment is also quite common.
Norway also has the most educated and most employed older population among the nations measured.