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100 years and older: Ontario sees a steady rise in centenarians

Watch the video above: Ontario sees a steady rise in centenarians and most are women. Minna Rhee reports. 

TORONTO –A new Ontario report says that the number of people living past 100 years old increased by more than 70 per cent over the past 15 years.

It’s especially good news for women – they make up 85 per cent of Ontario’s centenarians, according to a new study out of the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Women’s College Hospital.

“The predominance of women among those of advanced age challenges us to consider tailoring health and social care to meet their particular needs,” Dr. Paula Rochon, the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

READ MORE: Canada facing shortage of geriatricians as population ages

Her research is based on a population-based study looking at 1.8 million seniors. Rochon documented the centenarian population over the course of 15 years.

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In 2010, there were 1,842 people older than 100 years old. It was a 72.3 per cent jump from 1995 when there were 1,069 centenarians.

Of those 1,842 centenarians in 2010, 6.7 per cent were at least 105 years old.

READ MORE: Brain exercise trumps medication in maintaining seniors’ cognitive health: study

Even if seniors weren’t hitting the 100-year milestone, they were living lengthy lives: in 2010, there were 227,703 seniors living up into the 85-99 year age group.

What’s more interesting is that the majority of these older Canadians were living relatively healthily. More than 95 per cent of them saw a family doctor and 5.3 per cent had a geriatrician.

In 2010, 18.2 per cent of centenarians were hospitalized and 26.6 per cent went to an emergency department.

READ MORE: Can’t find a family doctor? Well-off more likely to secure appointments, Canadian research suggests

Still, 20 per cent of the group still lived independently and 25 per cent had publicly funded home care.

Rochon said that health care officials need to closely monitor the needs of centenarians – a growing segment of the Ontario population. That way, doctors, nurses and home care providers can make better decisions when looking after these elderly patients.

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Her complete findings were published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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