Dr Fernando Morales-Martinez spent over 30 years initiating, fostering, and guiding the education of geriatric medicine in Costa Rica as well as Latin America for medical students, residents, fellows, practicing general physicians and the general public. Currently, all medical students (since 1988) and all family residents rotate through a well-established geriatric medicine section. This section has an established medical staff and a geriatric fellowship-training program of 5 years duration that Dr. Morales initiated in 1992. This fellowship training is incorporated into an extended 4-year family medicine program (1987). Training sites are at the National Hospital of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the capitol, San Jose, as well as outlying community clinics and facilities. Dr Morales is both the general director and the academic director of the Department of Medicine at this hospital. EAMA inspires the model of excellence on his academic career.
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¿Does Costa Rica Have the Foundation of Youth?
The Costa Rica News online
At the Raúl Blanco Cervantes Geriatric Hospital, the elderly seem to defy the cycle of life. As they live more healthy and, as result, longer than the rest of the population. The Nicoya Peninsula, where the geriatric hospital is, qualifies as one of the seven blue zones over the globe.
¿What are blue zones you wonder? The Blue zone is a concept born out of demographic studies made by Gianni Pes and Michel Poulin. Together, they discovered that lifestyles affect directly on the longevity of a population. Therefore, areas where communities live in a family, don’t smoke, eat well and exercise tend to age better than those that don’t.
Costa Rica is part of a select group, Italy, Sweden, Greece, Japan and the US have blue zones. Living longer means healthier, and Nicoya’s geriatric hospital is a true testament to that statement. By 2009, the number of elderly persons over 100 years in the zone was over 900 Costa Ricans.
Does this beach paradise hold the secret to long life?
Jose Guevara lives with his family on a small farm. He has spent most of his life riding horses and working in the fields but today he gets around on the back of his grandson's four wheeler. He is 105 years old.
"I wake up at 6 am, then I will get some corn and go and feed the chickens or the pig," he says.
"I eat, but not as much ... generally beef, a good cut of pork, rice and beans -- four meals that we never went without in my house, thank God."
Guevara lives in the Nicoya peninsula of Costa Rica. Blessed with sandy beaches and tropical forest, it's something of a backpackers' paradise. It's also an area identified as a "Blue Zone" -- one of five hotspots around the globe where people live measurably longer lives.
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The increase in the population aged 65 years and over in Costa Rica is a reality that must be considered by the entire society and particularly by the government and its institutions.