First Interamerican Conference - Chile


Conference Findings


October 19-22, 1994
Viña del Mar, Chile


Life expectancy increases on a daily basis; scientific advances, particularly in the area of health, has resulted, amongst other aspects of the world reality, that the American Continent is Aging; every country ought to get prepared before this demographic reality. We are going through an epidemical transitional period. In other words, the older adult population is increasing in greater proportion than the rest of the population.

However, the quantitative variables do not always coincide with the qualitatives in the development of the community.

In general, it is possible to visualize, taking into consideration the unique characteristics of each nation, the following reality:

1.1. There is an awakening of the older persons population, and although incipient, there is a greater sensitivity; however we cannot say with certainty that there are advances in public policy and a holistic way approach in the design of short, medium and long run, objectives, goals and strategies for the coming years. Governments are not recognizing this situation, and there is not much time left.

In the absence of public policies and the lack of implemented methodologies, the existence of private initiatives can be observed which should be infused into the institutional and national context.

1.2. In the reality of our older persons we observe the co-existence of two diametrically opposed situations:

a) Older persons, whose vital experience have been oriented toward permanent education and to their personal and cultural development.
b) Older persons who live marginal lives, abandoned and mistreated.

It can be concluded that, despite the enhanced awareness about the aged in America, the quality of life of many older persons will continue to be marginal.

1.3. Given the dramatic increase of this segment of the population, it is clear that the participation of well trained professionals that can address the multiple needs of this population is insufficient. This implies that the discussion, does not reach, at this moment, the required multi-disciplinary status.


One of the purposes of this conference was to exchange experiences and the discussion of a series of actions regarding education, health, recreation, community and public planning, thus resulting in strategies and plans to develop methodologies for improving the quality of life for older adults.

During these days we have enriched ourselves by the innovative programs, which are having a positive effect on the elderly. Specifically in Venezuela, U.S.A., Puerto Rico, Brasil and Chile.

We shared the following experiences:

Course for Caregivers
Children Program:What it means to be old?

Puerto Rico:
CAMIRA Program
Older Adults as Resources in the Family

Latino Gerontological Center
Chronicle on Older Adults in a New York Union

The Groups of "La plaza"

Programa Educación para Adultos Mayores de la UCV
Program of Physical Education and Health of Municipality of Nu–oa and Universidad Metropolitana
Program of Health for the Older Adult of the V Region: "La Paz de la Tarde"
AM and EF Programs of DIGEDER, and EFI UCV in the V Region
Health Program of the Municipal Corporation of Valparaíso


We have corroborated the value of our elders, we have confirmed that they are a fountain of wisdom and a faithful testimony of our most precious traditions.

Which are the challenges and projections that we envision from here?

3.1. The need to create a new stage for older adults; this will require a societal effort, particularly in areas of Education, Health, Recreation, Community and Public Policy, that allows us to provide dignity and value to the Older Adult in our society.


Education is an ever evolving process that serves to guide us in our personal and professional life goals. This takes on greater meaning as we mature into our golden age years because the responsibility of our educational development fall into our own hands. The majority of programs of assistance, should emphasize education. This implies fundamentally:

a) The designing of educational policies and implementation of coherent programs regarding the challenge to Learn to Age and to cultivate the inter-generational relationship since infancy.

b) The designing of educational policies and implementation of coherent programs regarding the educational needs of the Older Adults of America.

3.1.2 HEALTH

Starting from an integral concept of health (which signifies quality of spiritual life, physical, mental, social and economic well being) it was proposed:

a) Preventive programs that emphasise the search for healthy life styles. This implies the implementation of health promotion since the beginning of life.

b) An interdisciplinary professional occupation based in the modern concept of health.

c) Programs that promote the older person's health care in their home and the community, oriented toward the development of their autonomy, as well as, in relation to their functional health; in other words, vision care, hearing, hands, feet, mobility and mental health.


Recreation helps the Older Adult to develop her/his full potential. One of the main issues is the use of free time. Culturally, free time has meaning and depth: It is the creative moment. This is the time that we become more humans.

The value of free time is now a challenge.

The challenge is to create conditions where culture, arts, physical activities and entertainment allow that the principles of independence, participation, self-realization and dignity get concretized in every reality of the Older Person of America.


Each individual, is a being that lives his/her existence in communion with others; his dialogic capacity help him to do and to make himself in the community. Also, the different worlds of interaction where he participates and develops, are meeting spaces which generate environment and opportunity to concretize his happiness, satisfaction, self fulfillment and transcendence.

Which is our responsibility as community?

- A decisive action of the governmental instance, to economically implement the proposed actions.

- A preventive action, identifying situations of risk.

- An educative action within the family and with the older adults in the community.

- A coordinated action between the community, the institutions of public service, and professionals.

This implies from the professional perspective the consolidation of a criteria that allows the study, research and academic exchange between the countries of America regarding this issue.

Thus, those findings can provide us with the background information when defining culturally competent models, which from a macro vision of the human development, and going through the analysis of the different levels of living and social systems, we can identify in every area, the need of the older person's population.

Therefore, allowing us to design and to implement feasible programs which are coherent with our cultural reality.


The individual, in his vocation of service turns to the Polis projecting himself to his community in a constructive manner; the challenge in this sense is for everyone of us, in a way that our action nurture those representatives of local and national government; the need that they observe the reality, find out, and reflect regarding the variables that affect the development of the older persons. For them to study alternatives of solution and to participate in a decisive way in the implementation of viable strategies; thus, we, the inhabitants of America, can live and grow up with equity and quality.