Currently in the UK there are 6,500 people aged 99 (1). As of 2010, the average life-expectancy rate for women in the UK is 82.3 years, and for men is 78.2 years. Life expectancy is defined as the expected number of years remaining at any given age (2). According to new projections by the Office of National Statistics, one out of three babies born this year in the UK is expected to survive to his/her 100th birthday. It is remarkable that, by 2060, there will be an estimated 455,000 centenarians in the UK, compared with only 626 in 1961 (3). What factors could be responsible for this increase in life expectancy? Some include improvements in maternal and infant health, decline in heart disease, improvements in healthcare, and the fact that people are developing illnesses at later ages . But is living to celebrate your 100th birthday a good or bad thing?
Such a large achievement also raises several concerns. One concern is that these individuals will be more likely to suffer from dementia. Dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65, one in six people over the age of 80, and one in three people over with age of 90 (3). With this problematic health concern it will be difficult to take care of the individuals who survive to be 100. Recently, David Cameron announced that there is to be an estimated 140 percent increase in public funds by the year 2015 to cover healthcare costs for individuals with dementia (3). The costs of healthcare services will rise tremendously; several centenarians will be placed in nursing homes or require long-term home assistance. The government is concerned about how funding will be obtained for the services these elderly will need.
Life expectancy is a basic indicator for how well a country is doing. Since one in three babies born today in the UK will live to be 100, this informs us that UK is doing extremely well with its health and social conditions. The UK is doing better than several other countries, such as the United States, which has an average life expectancy of 78.3. Although the UK is facing problems with obesity, its life expectancy seems to be rising. The obesity problem may in the future have an impact on these high life-expectancy rates.
Overall, I think the projections by the Office of National Statistics are a good thing. High life expectancies are attributed to good health. It will beneficial if the UK shares its secrets for having high life expectancies to countries with low life expectancies in hopes of helping increase their life expectancies.
For more information, an article on the increase in life expectancy in the UK can be found in The Independent, and is titled: This will be the Age of Old Age. I strongly recommend reading it because of all the insightful information it has to offer and it goes into further detail about the concerns living to be 100 will cause for the UK.
- BBC News Business. (2011). Life expectancy rises again, ONS says.
- Lakhani, N. (2012). This will be the age of old age. The Independent.
- Rosenberg, Matt. (2011). Life expectancy. About.com.