Belfast Telegraph

33% of Northern Ireland's children will live until they're 100

By Harriet Crawford

One in three children born in Northern Ireland will live to 100, research has revealed.

A record-breaking number of people are already surviving beyond their 100th birthday, with 233 centenarians living here last year.

That is a 276% increase in the number of people reaching the milestone birthday in the past 30 years, according to the Office for National Statistics. Just 62 people passed the 100-year mark in 1983.

Seven people living in Northern Ireland have celebrated their 105th birthday, data from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agencyshows.

Among the reasons for the marked rise in life expectancy are people avoiding cigarettes, drinking moderately and leading a healthy lifestyle.

Advances in medical treatment and technology and improved housing, living and nutrition standards are also crucial in the number of people living to 100 and beyond, according to the research.

Health Minister Jim Wells said: "The increasing number of centenarians living in Northern Ireland today is a real cause for celebration, and it is a wonderful testimony to our health service and its staff.

"As a society, we should look at how we can learn from the lives and experiences of this cohort of exceptional people.

"We must continue to do all that we can to support our older population to lead healthy and fulfilled lives, helping them to remain at home for as long as they can and then providing them with high-quality healthcare when that time comes."

Dr John O'Kelly, a practising GP and chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland, cautiously welcomed the figures.

He said: "We want people to live as long and as healthy life as possible, but nobody wants to keep people alive for the sake of it. It is about quality of life."

Dr O'Kelly told how the oldest person he had treated was a 107-year-old woman in Belfast, and he warned that longer lives posed huge challenges for health and social care provision.

He said: "The service we have now was developed post-war. The needs of the population in the 21st century have changed from what they were in the 1950s.

"Increasingly, people want to be managed at home, which is going to put pressure on both the health and social services in Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


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