The number of people living for over 100 years in England and Wales has risen to its highest ever level, highlighting the need for good care of the elderly.
Official figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that 9,000 people in England and Wales have exceeded their 100th birthday and the figure is expected to rise to 40,000 by 2031.
Improvements in healthcare, housing, diet and cleanliness are being cited as the main factors that have contributed to the 90-fold increase in centenarians since 1911.
Dr Lorna Layward, a spokeswoman for Help the Aged, told the BBC: "It's hard to know whether these extra years are providing extra years of good health.
"Hopefully, with better medical provision, these extra years can be happy and healthy."
There are concerns that NHS care services in England and Wales will be unable to cope with the growing number of elderly people, with a number of recent reports pointing to substandard conditions and standards of care.
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Care of the elderly news : 01/10//2007