Ana Vela, Europe’s oldest person, has died in Barcelona aged 116

Spain’s Ana Vela, the oldest person in Europe, has died peacefully in her sleep at a nursing home in Barcelona, six weeks after celebrating her 116th birthday

Ana Vela, Europe’s oldest person, has died in Barcelona aged 116
Ana Vela on her 110th birthday in 2011. Photo: La Verneda Nursing Home

Ana Vela Rubio, who was born in Cordoba on October 29, 1901 was not only the oldest living person in Spain but since April has claimed the title as the oldest in Europe.

That title now passes to Italian grandmother, Giuseppina Projetto, aged 115.

“She died peacefully while asleep in her bed, without suffering,” a spokesman from the care home confirmed to El Pais on Friday.

Although originally born in Andalusia, Ana Vela had lived in Barcelona since moving there in the 1940s to work as a dressmaker.

She was born during the regency of  Queen María Cristina, the great-great grandmother of the current King of Spain and lived through two dictatorships, two world wars and the Spanish Civil War.

For the last years of her life she lived in La Verneda old people's home in Barcelona. Her daughter, also Ana Vela, who is 90-years-old, is also resident at the home.

A mother of four children, she has lived so long that even one of her grandchildren now has grandchildren of their own.

Just six weeks ago, Ana Vela had a party to celebrate her 116th birthday which was attended by numerous family members including grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.  

Spaniards have the highest life expectancies in the world – after Japan – which is often attributed to the Mediterranean diet and traditional slower pace of life. 

READ MORE: Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of one hundred

Spain is also home to the world’s oldest man who last week celebrated his 113th birthday in Extremadura.

Francisco Núñez Olivera puts his longevity down to “good genes”, “hard work” and a varied diet of homegrown vegetables. He also enjoys a daily glass of red wine.

But one Spaniard who lived to the ripe old age of 107 did so on a diet that consisted mainly of… red wine. 


Spain’s prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death

Spanish prosecutors said Tuesday they have filed a criminal complaint against a Madrid care home doctor and its director over the Covid-related death of a resident, in the first such case in the capital region since the start of the pandemic

Spain's prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death
Photo: AFP

Madrid's public prosecutor's office said the two women are suspected of manslaughter and denial of medical attention in relation to the death in March of a woman in her 80s who had just moved into the home.   

Madrid was one of the hardest-hit cities in Europe by the first wave of the pandemic, and the complaint is expected to be one of several alleging inadequate care at retirement homes during the period.

In a statement, the prosecutor's office said the doctor and the director of the home, who were not named, did not follow the protocol set up by the Madrid regional government for caring for residents during the pandemic.

The doctor “disregarded” the protocol and did not call a hospital about the woman, despite her worsening condition, until eight days after she began having breathing trouble.

“Despite her rapid transfer to hospital, she died the following day from cardiac arrest,” the statement said.

The care home's director “was aware of the patient's clinical situation (but) did nothing” to ensure she received health care during periods when the doctor was absent, notably on the weekend before her death, it added.   

Amnesty International warned earlier this month that conditions at elderly care homes in the Madrid region and in Catalonia remained “alarming” despite improvements.

In a sharply worded report, it said the “vast majority” of residents had not been properly cared for during the pandemic.

The measures put in place by both regions were “inefficient and inadequate” and violated the residents' rights, it said.   

Spain has been one of Europe's worst-hit countries, with the virus infecting more than 1.7 million people and causing over 48,000 deaths.

Close to half of that number are believed to be elderly people who died in homes, Amnesty said.

At the height of the first wave in March, Spanish soldiers helping to fight the pandemic found elderly patients in retirement homes abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds.