The 120 Year Old Club Working Towards Unprecedented Longevity
By: Astrid Barnet Photos: Jorge Pérez
The Caribbean Medical Association (AMECA) , a non-governmental organization and part of the Association of Caribbean States, created the 120 Year Old Club on September 24, 2003 as an unique project to gather together people who wanted to live until the age of 120 while maintaining a high quality of life. The Club supports its members' personal commitment and contributes in such a way that more people can attain their objectives.
The creation of this Club, a very noble and futuristic project, has been directed and put into practice by a Cuban Professor. He is Dr. Eugenio Selman, Chairman of AMECA, who developed this idea for Cubans and citizens from other countries who wish to become members.
The Club is not exclusively for the elderly but is open to people of all ages including adolescents. The varied mix of ages and differences between the individuals encourages a high level of creativity and helps to motivate its members.
In Cuba, the Club is concerned with six main aspects: motivation, the importance of a good diet, health and, within the latter, genetics, physical activity, culture and the environment. Motivation, for example, is nurtured in Cuba through the opportunity given to the public to have access to jobs, education and healthcare. In the case of the elderly, the medical care they receive has to be highlighted as well as the activities carried out in the "Grandparents Clubs." In Cuba, they also have the possibility of continuing to be a part of their former work centres once they have retired or to enrol in the University for the Elderly in the event that they want to re-initiate their academic studies.
Life expectancy in Cuba is 76.8 years and it is expected that in the next five years, it will increase to 80 years.
The organizational structure of the Club in Cuba has been created from grass root organizations at work centres and in residential areas with the assistance of municipal and provincial participants and coordinators. As part of the program, lectures and talks are held regularly on health related issues. According to Professor Dr. Selman, "a human being is a creature of habit. And the force of habit can make you get used to good things or to bad things. If you can pull yourself together, then your body can solve the situation; if you are an optimist, and this has already been proven in labs, your entire immunological defence goes up, while if you're a pessimist, it drops. The doctor can only help the powerful machine, which is the human body."
Undoubtedly, the 120 Year Old Club offers a unique possibility for all to enrol and to create an extended future for oneself in order to enjoy the beauty of life.