They lived through the great depression, the second world war, the creation of the NHS and the social and civic transformation of the 1960s – and are still going strong, according to data showing that the number of people in the UK who are older than 105 has more than doubled since 2002, with five times more women of this age alive compared to men.
The number of centenarians is now 13,170, according to the statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS): almost 73% more than in 2002, when it was 7,630.
The data also shows that the number of nonagenarians – people aged 90 and over – has increased by half in the same period: there are more than 400,000 women in the UK today aged 90 or more compared with 183,000 men.
Vasita Patel, the senior research officer from the ONS Centre for Ageing and Demography, said the gap is narrowing.
“The size of the population aged 90 years and over in the UK continued to grow in 2018 – driven by an increase in the number of men at these ages,” she said: “The rise in the number of men has almost halved the gap between males and females in this age group compared with 25 years ago.
“However, we have seen a decrease in the number of people aged 100 years and over,” she added. “This is because of the low number of births in the UK during world war one.”
There are 820 people alive today aged 105 and over compared with 330 in 2002, and more than five times as many women aged 105 and over than men: 690 females to 130 males.
Dr Aideen Young, the evidence manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said many of those now in their 50s and 60s won’t have lives as long as those identified in the new data: “Our longer lives are an incredible gift and open up huge opportunities for individuals and society, so it’s great to see that the number of people reaching 90 and 100 is increasing.
“But we must not be complacent. Life expectancy remains lower in less well-off parts of the country and many people in their 50s and 60s now, particularly those who are less well-off, simply won’t reach these older ages,” she added. “They will experience poor health and disability much earlier and will die much earlier too.”
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, pointed out that increases in life expectancy at 90 have slowed since 2011, particularly for women: “It is worrying that life expectancy of people aged 90 or over continues to stall but good to hear that there is a small rise in the numbers of men living into their 90s.”
Jane Ashcroft CBE, the chief executive of Anchor Hanover, England’s largest provider of care and housing for older people, said the figures showed how many vulnerable people there were in the UK today: “Deeply ingrained institutional ageism and years of inaction to reform funding for systems that millions rely on, has left tens of thousands of older people suffering unnecessarily.
“To secure a positive future that people can look forward to, we demand government publish its ‘clear plan’ to reform social care as an immediate priority to secure a future for older generations,” she added.
Number of people in UK older than 105 more than doubled since 2002 – The Guardian