A GROWING number of Scots are living beyond their 100th birthday as a result of improved medicines and lifestyles, new figures have shown.
An estimated 800 people had passed this milestone last year – up from 510 in 2001.
Although Scotland’s centenarians are predominantly female, the number of men receiving a telegram from the Queen has doubled during this period, to 120, according to figures from National Records of Scotland (NRS).
However, a leading campaign group for older people yesterday warned Scotland is falling behind the rest of the UK in the way it deals with its ageing population and called for action.
Doug Anthoney, campaigns officer with Age Scotland, said: “That more of us are living longer is cause for celebration.
“Older people make a massive contribution to Scottish society – as active citizens, workers, carers and cultural contributors. With some forecasts showing that a quarter of babies born in the UK last year will live to see their 100th birthday, we can certainly expect to see the number of centenarians rise.
“The challenge will be to ensure healthy life expectancy keeps pace with longer life expectancies. However, sadly, Scotland is doing less well than the rest of the UK in that regard, particularly for males.
“Governments can make a difference, by ensuring our public services are reshaped to respond better to individuals’ needs, and by putting more emphasis on prevention of health and social problems.”
As there is no register of centenarians, the estimated figures are based on population information in the 2011 census.
While women make up 85 per cent of the over-100s, the figures indicate that the gap in mortality between men and women in this age group is decreasing.
There have also been “relatively big increases” in the number of people aged 90-99, with an estimated 26,390 women in this age group last year, up from 25,450 in 2011, and 9,720 men, up from 8,940 the year before.
“This is partly due to births in 1920 and 1921 [the aftermath of the First World War] being much higher than in the preceding years.
“The number of births in 1920 was the highest since the introduction of national registration in 1855,” NRS chief executive Tim Ellis said.
The figures were released to coincide with the UK Older People’s Day and the UN International Day of Older Persons. Health secretary Alex Neil said there have been “amazing improvements in life expectancy over the past few decades” and that “much of this increase has been down to advances in public health, nutrition and medicine”.
He said: “There is no better opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions that older people make to our society and tackle negative attitudes and outdated stereotypes. I believe that Scotland’s older people are an asset to the country, who have contributed all their lives to society.
“Our health service is evolving to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of our changing population now and in the future.”
Case study: Being active is best prescription for Madge
At 102 years old, Madge Rosie, pictured, speaks with the enthusiasm and spark of someone a quarter of her age, writes Emma Crichton.
Born Margaret Isabella St Clair on 14 April, 1911 on Orkney, Mrs Rosie lived on the island until she was 19, when she left her strict Christian home and moved to Edinburgh to train as a nurse.
“There was no washing or work on a Sunday in my family,” she recalled yesterday.
Mrs Rosie worked at Longmore Hospital, (now Longmore House) West House and Craig House, previously the Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum and now part of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.
At age 26, she met Alexander Rosie, 24, marrying him two years later. She would become a widow during the Second World War.
Following her mantra of “keep on going” Mrs Rosie worked to bring up her two sons and daughter and was in employment until her 70s.
Now living at Inch View Care Home in Edinburgh, Mrs Rosie still enjoys singing – a hobby that started in church choir – playing piano and the mouth organ. “I can sing you all the books in the New Testament,” she said.
Mrs Rosie marked her centenary with a party in Liberton Kirk Halls, with more than 100 family and friends.
“I still have my good memory,” she insisted, “but my balance isn’t what it was.”
The secret to long life, Mrs Rosie says, is to keep up with current affairs and keep an active mind.