The changing shape of the pyramid – how Spain is coping
As the country with one of the highest life expectancies in the world (ranging between 3rd (among women) and 23rd place depending on list, estimation method and gender (Source: CIA World Fact Book 2011 and United Nations World Population Prospects (Highlights, Table A17 or the 2010 revision) Spain has a clear challenge ahead of them in the coming years.
Well aware of the fact that Spain’s population pyramid has changed shape in the past 20 years from an actual pyramid to that of a thick-stemmed Christmas tree (see above picture), and that the prospects for the coming 40 years is that the population over 65 years of age will grow from today’s 18 % share of the population to 32% according to the Spanish government’s recently issued White paper on active ageing, p. 40 (compared to the 100 years it took to grow from 4% to today’s 18%), Spain’s government, autonomous communities and municipalities are starting to take action. With a multi-faceted approach on how to tackle the related challenges one topic that is, rightfully, always revisited is that of healthcare and, more importantly, the preventive type, focused on how to keep an active lifestyle for better life quality.
One of the things that you might see if you go on a trip around the country is the recent popularity of ‘parques saludables’, health parks, in green areas and along beaches and/or other open spaces. The concept – originally inspired by Chinese tradition and culture, with an inherent respect for our elders and their well-being along with a holistic approach towards a person’s body and health – consists of the setting up of a number of ‘simpler’ training machines that work with your body weight in order to create the adjusted counter weight for you to best strengthen your body and practice your balance. And not only do they provide an opportunity for good training, these health parks also create a fun way of socializing together around something that can be considered a bit more challenging of an exercise than the generic Sunday stroll. And I can tell you they’re definitely fun to use for more than the older generation.
Graph source: El envejecimiento de la población española, Perez-Diaz, Investigación y ciencia, noviembre 2010