We grow older, but our health-span has not increased at the same pace. On average, people can expect to live a considerable proportion of their lives in suboptimal physical or mental health. Importantly, the increase in lifespan and particularly health-span is unequally distributed, both geographically and across socio-economic subgroups. The challenge is not aging as such, but to do so healthy and more equitable. So many more would, or even should remain capable of contributing to an aging society for a much greater part of the lifespan.
Interestingly, in some rare and remote regions people already live exceptionally long and healthily. Belgian demographer Michel Poulain discovered exceptional numbers of centenarians in secluded parts of Sardinia, Ikaria, Loma Linda, Nicoya and Okinawa. Moreover, also the average health-span of those not so fortunate to reach the age of hundred appeared much closer to their life-spans than for their fellow countrymen. Professor dr. Erik Buskens will examine the backgrounds of the healthy longevity in those ‘blue zones’. What can we learn from them, and better yet can we create new blue zones?
About Erik Buskens
Erik Buskens is Professor in Health Technology Assessment at the University of Groningen. In 2010 he was appointed Program Director Healthy Aging UMCG. The latter among others encompasses coordination of cross-faculty research and education programs, development of innovative health care concepts inclusive of e-health, and evaluation thereof. He therefore increasingly focused his research expertise in epidemiology and later on in Health Technology Assessment on topics related to Healthy Aging.
Balancing between benefits and risks and benefits and costs remain recognized issues that should consistently be incorporated in clinical and policy decision making. Integrating all available evidence and drawing valid inference is the challenge driving his teaching and scientific ambitions.