Number of NI people aged 85 and over continues to increase

Claire Keatinge is stepping down after four years as Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland
Claire Keatinge is stepping down after four years as Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland

The number of people aged 85 and over in Northern Ireland has grown significantly during the last decade – and is growing by around 1,000 every year, new research has shown.

However, the proportion in that age bracket varied between council areas with 1.4 per cent (2,000 people) in Derry and Strabane, compared to 2.4 per cent (3,800 people) in North Down and Ards Local District.

The report ‘Estimates of the Population aged 85 and Over,’ was carried out by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

Its publication came the day before the Commissioner for Older People, Claire Keatinge, praised the “vibrant and positive contributions” of older people to her work, ahead of stepping down next month.

Ms Keatinge also published her own report – A Summary of Advice to Government 2011-2015 – which covered her four-year tenure as the Province’s first- ever commissioner.

Launching the report, she said: “Whilst so much has been achieved to date, it is also important that I take this opportunity to remind government of the need to implement the evidence-based advice I have given them over the past four years.

“The number of older people is set to increase by almost 87 per cent in the next 50 years, and so it is essential that government develops clear, costed plans and legislation to respond to the needs of a changing population.”

Ms Keatinge said it had been a great privilege to help bring about “significant positive change,” and added: “Older people must be enabled to live their later years in the confidence that they are safe, valued and respected, and that the services they need will be available should they need them.”