The number of Britons reaching the age of 100 will hit a record 9,000 today and is expected to reach 40,000 by 2031
Jeanne Calment died aged 122, the world's oldest person
A boom in life expectancy shows the number of centenarians has increased 90-fold since 1911 and many young children are now expected to live to 100 or beyond. People are now reaching old age in much better health and have a far better standard of living than previous generations. The longest life on record is that of a French woman who died in 1997 at 122.
Today's figures on population in England and Wales disclosed a picture of a fast ageing population.
The rapid increase in the number of very elderly people began in the 1950s and is attributed to improvements in housing, health care, nutrition and sanitation.
Life expectancy for British women has risen from only 50 a century ago to 81 now. And by 2080 it will rise to 100. For men, life expectancy is 76. Life expectancy increases at around two years per decade, but we don't know what will happen in the future. It was thought after 1980 it would slow down and stop. But people are reaching old age in better shape and we have made great strides in understanding the nature of the ageing process.
"I would predict the rate of increase will slow. Great advances have been because of huge improvements in people's living experience - housing, heating, less exposure to infection.
"But obesity coupled with smoking and a lack of exercise could impact on the number of centenarians in the future."
"We used to talk about ageing being a problem, then a challenge, but now we realise it is an opportunity.
"A mature society is a more confident society, a society that is more experienced and more stable."
But pension companies have repeatedly warned that pension ages will have to rise. It is not possible to generate enough wealth by working from 25 to 55 to enable people to live well until they are 95. Too many pensioners live below the poverty line.
The soaring population of centenarians is also likely to place a greater burden on the health services.
There used to be proportionately more female to male centenarians - seven women for every man.
However this ratio is now beginning to fall as survival to this age becomes more common.
A few Questions I would like to ask.
1. How much longer do you hope (expect) to live?
2. How will you afford these extra years of retirement/
3. Should insolvent aged persons be painlessly put down on reaching retirement?
4. Do you subscribe to voluntary Euthanasia?
5. How would you describe the taste of 'Soylent Green'?
6. Have you ever wished that you were never born?
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