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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform