Longevity: What you should take care of in your health depending on your age to achieve an enviable old age

Longevity: What you should take care of in your health depending on your age to achieve an enviable old age


Life is a long journey through health and illness that ends in death. “There is no doctor whose patients do not die,” warns the renowned palliative specialist Marcos Gómez Sancho. Sometimes living may not seem like an easy task, but it doesn’t have to be so dramatic either. The difference between looking like an old man at 60 or looking like a kid at 70 lies, to a large extent, in taking a little care of yourself from a very young age.

It is true that the state of health, physical and mental, is decisively influenced by both genetics and the different living conditions of each person. But the destiny of this metabolic and social route is not written. It can be changed without great efforts or diets that force one to be a slave to what one eats. This is stated, at least, by the three specialists who participate in this report.

They are the internists Manuel Landecho, from the Clínica Universidad de Navarra (CUN), and Pilar Cubo, from the Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI) together with the geriatrician from the IMQ network Naiara Fernández. We have brought them together to review the most common diseases that afflict men and women throughout their lives and how to protect themselves against them. The goal is to reach old age in the most enviable way possible. And there are no big secrets…!

Youth not so immortal

From adolescence to 50

The owner: We are not immortal.

Adolescence and early youth is the time of life when one feels strongest. Physical strength is then so great, one looks so full and so handsome at fifteen or twenty years old, that one often tends to believe oneself immortal. Of course, you’re wrong. This false image of oneself is, in fact, the greatest risk for this population group, which dies mainly from suicide and traffic accidents.

At this stage of life, the human defense system is stronger than ever, but the brain, which will not reach its full development until the age of 25, still lacks maturity. You still need some distance to be able to make calm decisions and be aware, for example, that reckless driving and excessive alcohol consumption are very costly. It’s not that they don’t want to see it, it’s that they can’t.

Dangerous habits. The abusive way of drinking alcohol imposed among young people is directly related to a multitude of health problems. In the short term, this uncontrolled intake increases the risk of traffic accidents, sexual assaults and unwanted pregnancies. In the long run it is known that it promotes the appearance of mental illnesses, the circulatory system, the heart and also various types of cancer. “Defining successful aging involves establishing a healthy lifestyle as soon as possible,” warns the specialist from the CUN Checkup Unit.

Sexually transmitted diseases, on the rise since the turn of the century, also present themselves as a challenge for the population in general, but for young people in particular. With the fear of AIDS lost with the appearance of antiretroviral therapy, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexual infections are skyrocketing in Spain.

32%
suicides

Suicide cases between 2019 and 2021 in Spain increased by 32% in Spain, a fact that according to a study by the Complutenese University of Madrid cannot be attributed solely to the pandemic. Along with traffic accidents, it is the main cause of death among the population between 10 and 24 years old.

To do. As children, it is important to go to the dentist’s office once a year and to the eye doctor or ophthalmologist to check the condition of the mouth and eyes. It is not only about maintaining correct teeth and vision, but also about preventing serious diseases that perhaps one would not associate with both specialties. Like heart attacks, arthritis, diabetes, cancers…

The risk of oncological disease should always be present in people’s heads, but especially in men from the age of 20 or 25, and in women from the age of 40. For them, learning to feel their testicles in search of possible nodules or malformations can serve to protect them from a perhaps malignant tumor. Women, starting at 40, should attend a gynecologist’s consultation at least annually to protect themselves against breast cancer, which may already appear. “When you discover a lump in your breast, it may be too late,” explains the internist. And there is a third cancer that must begin to be prevented at an early age, melanoma. The skin has memory and the less exposed and protected it is from the sun, the better.

Beginning of adulthood First notices

From 35 to 50

The transition. Although barriers cannot be established in health, because each person is different, we could set 35 years as the moment when everything changes. The World Health Organization marks the limit of youth in that range. Chronic diseases begin to appear, which will become more of a problem in the next stage of life. Hypertension, diabetes… and sometimes, heart attacks.

Is the famous glass of wine with meals really healthy?

The famous glass of wine with meals has sparked tremendous controversy in recent years among medical professionals, divided between its convenience and harm. The Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI) has already spoken out openly against it. Alcohol consumption, they say, is not good for health in any quantity. The geriatrician Nahiara Fernández believes so, although in an intermediate position she defends that she does not deny a little wine with food to older people either. “You also have to enjoy life.” The University of Navarra Clinic is developing a scientific study to know “definitively” whether this consumption, from 35 years of age, is healthy.

Maturity Chronic diseases

Between 51 and 65 years

The owner: Health is complicated.

In adulthood, the consequences of the passage of time and a life unrelated to prevention begin to be paid. The circulatory system fails and you can suffer a heart attack or stroke. The most worrying thing, however, is that all these specific accidents can only be the warning of something that by then has usually already arrived in our lives and, what is worse, with the intention of staying. They are chronic diseases.

Hospitals are full of mature patients with crises caused by diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD, which was previously called chronic bronchitis). It is, in most cases, the payment for a sedentary life, with a disordered diet and often toxic habits, especially alcohol and tobacco, as recalled by SEMI internist Pilar Cubo.

27.1%
Cardiovascular diseases

27.1% of the deaths registered in Spain in the last year were due to cardiovascular diseases, the main cause of death, above cancer (25.8%).

To do. Although there are cancers at all stages of life, even among children, it is in this age group when they begin to appear more. Therefore, it is time to become aware of the need to participate in public programs for the early detection of breast, colon, ovarian and lung tumors, when they exist.

They are not the only form of prevention. “A healthy lifestyle, which is applicable to all people, of any sex and age, could prevent or delay up to 90% of illness,” says the specialist. It is something as simple as staying slim with a diet that follows the patterns of the Mediterranean diet (cereals, fruit, legumes, fish and preferably white meat), exercising (not just walking, but also strength, resistance and balance) and enjoying simple things to ward off mental illness as much as possible. “It is never too late to start taking care of yourself,” encourages the expert. “Even COPD patients who stop smoking have fewer relapses and a better life prognosis,” she says.

Maturity In the final line

Beyond 65

The owner: The biggest challenge, fragility.

As in youth, it is not the same to talk about a 65-year-old person as another 80-year-old, although geriatrician Naiara Fernández, care director of the IMQ Igurco group, assures that, by taking care of themselves, it is increasingly normal to see octogenarians who use alone, without anyone’s help. When we reach 65 – “although I don’t like it, let’s set a barrier” – osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are added to the list of chronic diseases, especially in women. Gynecological follow-up and densitometry after menopause are essential. In addition, all types of cancers are now appearing, although the first to appear are usually colon cancers, leukemias and other blood cancers and, to a lesser extent, but also prostate cancers.

The physiological reserve of calcium, immunity and everything begins to decline after the age of 75. The bones weaken and so does the mind. Complications generated by vascular risk problems now favor the appearance of Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

The biggest challenge for older people, with the permission of loneliness, is fragility. Chronic diseases accumulate, the risk of falls grows, and circumstances together begin to make the person more dependent. “Nutrition and physical exercise play a fundamental role in the face of fragility. Having poor muscle – the geriatrician details – is decisive in staying autonomous for a long time, which is the key, the final objective.”

To do. And beyond early detection campaigns, check-ups and reviews, are there signs from our body that should lead us to consult a specialist? Well yes, and there are four that are basic, according to Naiara Fernández. Pain that does not subside with 500 milligrams of paracetamol, falling more than three times in a year, sudden or unexplained weight loss, and suffering from forgetfulness and disorientation should be reasons for inexcusable medical consultation.

It’s nothing to be scared of. That’s life.



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