Manel Domínguez (Barcelona, 1951) has dedicated the last ten years to carrying out academic and journalistic research on aging that he summarizes in Senior. The life that does not cease (Diëresis). He confesses that this work is the result of the internal revolution that caused him to see the contempt that was exercised towards the elderly during a stay in California.
I got very angry against ageism and decided that I had to do something in favor of those millions of people over 65; and I thought of starting by providing criteria, by giving a polyhedral vision to understand aging.
The vision that it offers of the elderly dismantles many age-related myths, such as the one that associates old age and dementia.
The plasticity of the brain does not diminish with 50, nor with 70 nor with 100 years; Science confirms that young people have a brain that acts faster, but that of seniors is more effective, makes fewer mistakes, is more coherent, sets aside what is useless and concretes and perseveres in what has more weight in thought. Of course there are people with pathologies, but there are those at 30 and 80 years of age, and the fact that Joe Biden has mental synapse problems does not mean that tens of thousands of citizens of the same age do too; we do not relate personal pathologies with the age of the individual; that is ignorant ageism.
Hence the apostille to the title of 'life that does not cease'?
The message is that, that we do not stop, that science tells us that we will live many more years, that without genomic intervention we will be able to live to 300 years and that, therefore, we have to understand aging with a new perspective, banish ageism and build the society of the ages betting on an intergenerational balance and empowering all of us together, young people, adults and seniors.
You suggest that, due to demographics, seniors will be the new players in the world. Wouldn't that, more than balance, cause intergenerational conflict?
Not if we do it right. Young people will be less because of a demographic issue, not because the seniors cancel them out. And seniors have the opportunity ahead of them not only to be part of the new artificial intelligence society (which is going to change everything), but to lead it. To do this, we just have to overthrow ageism, stop talking about retirement and start talking about transformation.
What does it mean?
Until now, politics, administrations, universities and companies have relegated the elderly, have set an age at which the person is separated and given a care role; Older people have been submissive in this retirement process, but that is changing; The revolution has begun, because we seniors no longer retire, we transform, and we may not want to or cannot reach 80 working in a factory, but we have the talent and experience to lead another idea, other projects, up to the last one. moment of life, be it researching, writing, drawing, designing boxes or co-creating. And that is where politics, administrations, companies and universities have to create this new binomial between young people and seniors, that intergenerational union.
How is this intergenerationality promoted?
We are at the beginning of a process that cannot be built without the participation of States, administrations and companies. The change is to understand the capacity of the seniors, to understand that retirement is an old concept, that it should be a personal and free decision and the State should only say at what age you can opt for it, but not force you. From there, it is about proposing a total war against ageism in all areas: culture, politics, society... Because there is no scientific reason to relegate the talent of older people. On the contrary.
What should be the first steps to eradicate that ageism?
Instead of communities of the elderly, we must favor communities where the young and the elderly are not only together but also live together, where their different vital states and their talents and abilities are promoted.
The media must also contribute to this new culture. It makes me very angry not to see senior talent, especially female, in the news. Or listening to a presenter ask the interviewee to explain something as if it were for her father or her mother, as if they were stupid because they were older...
You have to start talking with criteria about the seniors, because we were installed in social submission but that is going to end. And the first companies, which age faster than people! If in 2000 the ones that led the economy were the energy companies, now it is the technological ones, and in 2030 the biotechnological ones will do so... So instead of discriminating against people because of their age, they are interested in highlighting all the talents .