100 not out! Number of centenarians increases five-fold in just 30 years

Warning of future shock to pensions and health service as thousands reach age of 100

Britain is rapidly becoming a Methuselah nation with the number of centenarians increasing five-fold in the past 30 years.

New figures show that 12,320 people living in England and Wales are currently more than 100 not out, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It is estimated that 610 of these are now aged more than 105.

The growing number of the very old has major implications for future pensions, social and health care policies as well as for the organisation of the workplace, communities and families.

Forecasts suggest that more than a third of British babies born today will live to receive a letter from a future monarch congratulating them on the milestone - assuming it does not become too commonplace an age for the tradition to continue.

It was found that nearly one per cent of the English and Welsh population is now aged more than 90 - up threefold since 1981.  Last year the number of those living into their 10th decade and beyond reached 465,500 or the equivalent of a city the size of Edinburgh.

This means Britain is now ranked ahead of countries including Norway, the United States and Australia in its number of very old people. Japan still heads the international longevity list with half as many people again as the UK making it to 90.

Figures have increased sharply since 2008 when the impact of declining birth rates during the latter stages of World War One saw a dramatic reduction in the number of nonagenarians

And whilst women have traditionally dominated the ranks of the "oldest old", men are rapidly catching up thanks to advances in healthcare the decline of manual labour.

Women however can still expect to live on average four years longer than men enjoying a current life expectancy of 82.6 years.

Yet whereas in 1981 there were four women for every man aged 90 and over there are now only 2.6 although wives are still six times more likely to reach 100 than their husbands.

The latest figures on longevity come as the Ready for Ageing Alliance warned that the Government is not ready for the impact of an ageing population.

Research released by alliance member Anchor, which provides homes and care to the over-55s, showed that the public is underprepared for the realities of growing old.

It said just 29 per cent of adults are saving money for when they get older and 48 per cent had not considered how they will pay for their own care.

Mervyn Kohler of Age UK said the figures showing increasing numbers of centenarians and over 90s were a cause for celebration.

"It is far better than the alternative," he said. But there needed to be faster change at government, community and a personal level to combat problems such as the multiple medical conditions associated with extreme age as well as loneliness and isolation.

"Most of us have a role model of our own grandparents who probably died in their 60s or 70s. We haven't adapted to the idea that we will live into our 90s or even 100s," he said. "It can be pretty bleak. There is a lot of survey evidence of loneliness increasing and as other peoples' lives become increasingly busy and frantic it is easy to get left in the slipstream."

The Queen currently sends a personal birthday message to anyone in the United Kingdom celebrating their 100th birthday, their 105th birthday and every birthday thereafter.

CASE STUDY: EDITH REGULARLY WALKS TWO MILES INTO TOWN

Picture taken by Samantha Devenny
Edith Bassett celebrated her 100 birthday last month surrounded by her family at a sun-soaked garden party.

“You don’t think about your age – you just get on with things,” she said. “You should keep busy and keep in with things. Don’t hide away because that is no use,” she added. Mrs Bassett, who nursed her husband Harry, a former aeronautical draughtsman, through Alzheimer’s until his death in 1996, was born in Blackburn, Lancashire before the First World War.

Her mother was a weaver in the cotton mills and she can recall the lamplighters coming up her street to light the gas with their long poles whilst the children played out. She went on to have two sons – now both in their 60s - and has three grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

She regularly walks the two miles into town and is an active member of her church and a regular at a local luncheon club.

“I have a cleaner who comes in for the heavy stuff but I have plenty to keep me going - knitting and sewing. There is never a dull minute,” she said.

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

News
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Arts and Entertainment
filmsIt's nearly a wrap on Star Wars: Episode 7, producer reveals
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
News
<p>Jonathan Ross</p>
<p>Jonathan Ross (or Wossy, as he’s affectionately known) has been on television and radio for an extraordinarily long time, working on a seat in the pantheon of British presenters. Hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross for nine years, Ross has been in everything from the video game Fable to Phineas and Ferb. So it’s probably not so surprising that Ross studied at Southampton College of Art (since rebranded Southampton Solent), a university known nowadays for its media production courses.</p>
<p>However, after leaving Solent, Ross studied History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, now part of the UCL, a move that was somewhat out of keeping with the rest of his career. Ross was made a fellow of the school in 2006 in recognition of his services to broadcasting.</p>
TV

Rumours that the star wants to move on to pastures new

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey indulge in some racing at a Point to Point
tvNew pictures promise a day at the races and a loved-up Lady Rose
News
people

Comedian says he 'never laughed as hard as I have writing with Rik'

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Wonnacott dancing the pasadoble
TVStrictly Come Dancing The Result
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

DT Teacher - Textiles

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Design and Technology Teacher ...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past