October 21, 2023 08:22
Makoto Suzuki, a cardiologist and geriatrician who has been studying longevity in the Japanese province of Okinawa, recently lamented that while most centenarians in the region in the mid-1970s were active and able-bodied, more than 50 percent of them now languish in nursing homes.
"Centenarians, who are the gems of humanity, have changed from gems to fossils," Suzuki said. The irony of longevity is that a growing number of centenarians are enjoying a poor quality of life.
Researchers at Chonnam National University also studied the changes that happened to centenarians over the last 20 years in Gurye, Gokseong, Sunchang and Damyang in southwestern Korea, which are known for their longevity.
What stood out was the difference in living conditions among the first generation of centenarians (2001 to 2003) and second generation (2018 to 2023).
The proportion of centenarians living with their families fell from 90 percent to 50 percent, while the proportion living alone rose from six percent to 25 percent. Around 20 percent live in nursing homes.
The proportion of centenarians under the care of their eldest sons fell from 70 percent to 30 percent. While people' duty of caring for their parents eroded, improvements in welfare and facilities caring for the elderly have boosted the choices of centenarians in living without the care of their children.
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