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Hopes and fears of East Lancashire people joining the '100 club'
NEW statistics predict that a third of babies born in the UK this week will live to be 100. In the first of a two-part series Bill Jacobs talks to a Burnley man who has celebrated his centenary and asks a Blackburn mum about her hopes and fears for her newborn daughter . . .
In 2001, there were 216 people aged more than 100 in Lancashire but by 2035 the number of centenarians in the county is likely to exceed 1,000.
As the one hundred-plus group grows so do the over 90s, over 80s and over 70s.
Better diet, a more peaceful society and improved health care have all contributed to the ageing population.
But as more people get to enjoy old age the challenges for the individuals themselves and public services grow too.
The government has already said the state pension age will rise to 66 by 2020 and to 67 by 2028. Some experts say it will be 73 for people aged 33 today and 77 for pupils taking their A-levels this summer.
The figures for Blackburn with Darwen alone predict 2,663 over 85s in eight years compared to 2,383 in 2011, 9,778 over-75s against 8,767 and 22,318 residents aged 65 or more in 2021 compared to 19,151 two years ago.
For the whole of Lancashire, including the borough, the number of over-90s is expected to rise by 4.9 per cent by 2021 from 9,386 in 2011 to 14,298. By 2035 the total of over-90s is set to have more than tripled to 28,400.
Apart from the rising costs of health care, home care and residential and nursing accommodation, Lancashire county adult care service director Richard Jones highlights loneliness and isolation as a growing problem.
That is something that Burnley’s John Chapman has avoided in his 100 years and something nurse Kelly Thomas, 34, of Ewood in Blackburn hopes her daughter Ruby Eve, born a week ago, can also dodge as the youngest of four children under seven.
Mrs Thomas spoke of her hopes and fears for her daughter.
She said: “My biggest worry for Ruby, and all my children, is jobs.
“With the current economic situation, will they all get work? This recession had better be over by the time they need work.
“I just want Ruby to be happy and healthy. I want her to get a good education and a job she enjoys and pays the bills.
“All young children love the X Factor so perhaps she could be a singer or a dancer, or possibly a teacher like I wanted to be before I became a nurse.
“My family and my husband Steven’s seem to be long-lived, so perhaps she will make 100.
“I’d quite like that so long as she is fit and not suffering and has her family around her. As the youngest of four children with four young cousins, I don’t think she will be lonely in old age. I’d like her to see her great-grandchildren.”
Ian Woolley, the 80-year-old chairman of Blackburn with Darwen Age UK, sees the trend towards longer life as a good thing – but a challenge for everyone.
He said: “It’s fantastic news that more people are going to live to 100, as long as they are healthy.
“There is a lot that individuals can do in terms of diet, lifestyle and keeping fit. There is also a lot they need to do about saving for their old age.
“This is a huge challenge. The pension age is bound to rise and there’ll be more demand on the NHS as a result of the ageing population.
“We want more older people able to stay in their own homes – no one wants to go in a nursing home.
“There are a lot of challenges but I’d love to live to 100, provided I am healthy and can look after myself.”
Key to a long life? Eat well and relax
JOHN Chapman, who hopes to celebrate his 101st birthday in May, advises sport, exercise, good eating and a bit of relaxation as the way for children born today to enjoy life in old age.
He knows they will see many changes, but hopes life will be more comfortable for the new generation.
Mr Chapman has few worries, relaxing in The Hilton Rest Home, Padiham, with his son John Junior, a mere 76, beside him.
Born in Manchester in 1912, living his life in Rosegrove and Padiham, he hopes his great-great grandaughter Kadee, aged six months, and Ruby Eve will have their families around them in old age.
Mr Chapman said: “I always did a lot of sport and exercise. That’s very important for a fit and healthy old age.
“I played cricket a lot, captaining Edelston’s Foundry team. I still watch it on the TV today. Once a cricketer, always a cricketer.
“I also played bowls and even did a hand-balancing act on stage with a friend for a while. I still like getting bit of exercise with the movement to music we do in the evenings.”
Despite a stroke ten years ago, the centenarian still gets around and plays dominos regularly.
Mr Chapman revealed how life has changed when it comes to travelling around.
He said: “I always did a lot of cycling. I used the bike to get to work. We didn’t have a car. My wife Mary Jane and I used to ride a tandem. On three occasions we cycled to Blackpool and back. I don’t suppose young people will do that but it was fun and very good exercise.
“We didn’t have foreign trips in those days but the family always got a holiday – mainly Blackpool or the Isle of Man.
“Eating properly is important. I used to like rabbit pie. There were some lads who’d go off shooting with dogs to get the rabbits.
“We would then barter them for a cabbage or some vegetables. We used to do that a lot. We used to get eggs that way from a neighbour. That’s changed too.
“It’s important to relax. I always used to nip for a pint to the Griffin or the Dolphin. I miss Masseys Burnley beer, my favourite.
“But I still enjoy a pint here in the home.
“I hope more people live to be a hundred. I’m really enjoying it with my family around and not having to get up and go to work at 7.30am.
“If the babies today can stay fit and healthy, they can enjoy retirement like me.”
He adds with a laugh: “I’d even like John Junior to make to a hundred, as long as he keeps from under my feet.”
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