Number of people over the age of 85 in England and Wales up by 25%


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The Independent Online

The number of the nation's “oldest old” has increased by nearly a quarter in the last decade, figures show.

Residents in England and Wales over the age of 85 has risen from just over 1 million in 2001 to 1.25 million in 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In 2011, the number of women outnumbered men in this age group by two to one, the ONS said.

But while women are living longer they are more likely to be living alone.

For every 100 women aged 85 or over, 77 were widowed, 13 were married and 10 were either single, separated or divorced. Meanwhile almost half of men aged 85 and over were still married, 43% were widowed and 9% were single.

The ONS said: "Recent gains in life expectancy mean that more people are living to the age of 85 and beyond.

"In the future more of the population, who are now just entering old age, will live to be 85 or older.

"The oldest old are among the most vulnerable in our society, but are also among the most resilient.

"For some, but by no means all, their advancing years affects their physical and mental health, increases their level of dependency on others and the amount of support that they require from family, private and public institutions."

The latest report, compiled from the 2011 Census, found that one in 10 men and one in five women lived in a "communal establishment", such as a care home, with the remaining people living in a private household.