'Not enough funding' for OAP care
There is not enough money available to pay for the care of a surging number of elderly people, the health minister said.
Michael McGimpsey insisted the health budget is insufficient to properly meet the needs of the oldest people.
The number aged over 85 is expected to increase by 67% in the next decade.
The minister said: "We are facing those sort of increases in demand which means the budget stretch is insufficient to actually properly meet the need which means we end up targeting those clients with highest levels of need and that is unfortunate and I believe it is an indictment of this house."
With new drugs and enhanced hospital procedures available people are living longer, with an average life expectancy of 70-80 years.
According to June 2009 figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, 28,700 people or around 1.6% of the population were aged 85 years and over.
The population aged 85 and over has increased by 5,100 people (22%) in the seven-year period between June 2002 and June 2009.
In this period, the population aged 85 and over has grown four times faster than the overall population (22% growth for those aged 85 and over, against 5% growth for the whole population). Within the population aged 85 and over, women significantly outnumber men.
It is estimated that there were just under 200 centenarians living in Northern Ireland, with the number having increased by around 50% since June 2002, according to the figures.
By 2021, the number of people aged 85 and over in Northern Ireland is projected to increase by 67% to 47,900. By 2033, the population aged 85 and over is projected to account for 4% of the total population (or one person in every 25).