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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume IV, Wellbeing in Later Life by Cary L. Cooper, Thomas B. L. Kirkwood

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13

When Vitality Meets Longevity

New Strategies for Health in Later Life

Rudi G. J. Westendorp

Leyden Academy on Ageing and Leiden University and Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Bert Mulder

The Hague, The Netherlands

A. J. Willem van der Does

Leiden University, The Netherlands

Frans J. G. van der Ouderaa

Leyden Academy on Vitality and Ageing, The Netherlands

Setting the Scene

Not only has the probability of dying young decreased dramatically, the over 60s in developed countries now enjoy substantially longer lives than around the middle of the past century (Lutz, Sanderson, & Scherbov, 2008). The resulting demographic shift towards higher age distributions of populations has now become a concern because of the increasing dependency rate, financial costs, and societal implications thereof. It has been argued that the main route to cope with demographic change is to prevent disease and its complications (Swedish National Institute of Public Health, 2006). This concept of “healthy aging” may be aspirational for a younger generation but is not credible for the majority of older people who already suffer morbidity (World Health Organization, 2005). Although prevention of age-related disease and striving for a healthy longevity is a laudable goal in itself, it does not necessarily imply life with a high degree of wellbeing. Moreover, despite all our efforts most of us will end our life with a significant period of disability and handicap. How can we have a high degree ...

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