A new study suggests that the UK will have more than 300,000 centenarians by 2059, a staggering twenty-six-fold increase compared with today. Saga's report into changing attitudes to life expectancy forecasts that one in eight people turning fifty this year will live to the grand old age of 100.
Whilst advances in medical science contribute to the fact that people are living longer, the other factor is the changes we have seen in the attitudes and lifestyles of the over-50s. The over 50s are not just actively concerned about health - they are doing something about maintaining it. For example one in seven of those running the London marathon this weekend will be aged 50 or over. Almost half of UK over-fifties say they are taking more exercise than they have ever done before. One in five 60 year olds say they have climbed a mountain in their fifties, and almost a quarter have run or jogged at least a mile in their fifties. In addition, around one in six seventy year olds are still claiming to have run more than a mile at some point during their sixties.
As a result of this change in attitude towards health and well being today's fifty-somethings have a much higher chance of celebrating their 100th birthday than they realise. While only one in forty people in their early fifties expect to reach age one hundred, it is forecast that in fact, around one in eight people turning fifty during 2010 will become centenarians. This represents a huge change from previous generations - fewer than one percent of the fifty year-olds of 1959 have made it to this age. By the middle of this century, the total number in the UK is forecast to grow by 2600% to 312,000 from today's 12,000.