Over 3,000 Centenarians as Korea Ages Fast

  • By Kim Dong-seop

    July 26, 2016 12:25

    The number of centenarians in Korea has surpassed 3,000 for the first time ever while more than 150,000 people are in their 90s as the country ages rapidly.

    According to the 2015 census announced by Statistics Korea on Monday, there were 3,159 centenarians in Korea as of November, up 72.2 percent from 2010. In 2005, there were just 961. The vast majority or 86.5 percent were women, and 90.9 percent had been widowed.

    ◆ Centenarians

    Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul had the most centenarians with 692, followed by Seoul (521), North Gyeongsang Province (224), South Jeolla Province (209) and South Chungcheong Province (182).

    But their happiness has declined. In one-to-one interviews, only 5.7 percent said they are very happy and 28.7 percent fairly happy. Those figures marked a significant decline compared to five years ago.

    The main reason appears to be that a growing number of centenarians live apart from their families, from 57.1 percent who were surrounded by their loved ones in 2010 to 44.6 percent last year.

    Some 43.1 percent lived in care facilities, 48.2 percent of were cared for by nurses and other caretakers, and just 45.6 percent were under the care of family members.

    Centenarians attributed their longevity to good eating habits, followed by strict daily routines, and optimistic personality, and genetic factors. Seven out of 10 said they never smoked or drank.

    ◆ Nonagenarians

    The number of Koreans in their 90s also increased markedly to 157,000 across the nation, up a whopping 67.7 percent compared to 2010.

    More than one in 10 deaths in the country are now people in their 90s. While in 1985 the biggest proportion of deaths was still people in their 70s, now the biggest number survive at least into their 80s, mostly women.

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