High centenarian number indicates aging population

By Hsieh Wen-hua and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Oct 12, 2013 - Page 4

Latest statistics on the nation’s elderly population published by the Ministry of Health and Welfare showed new record highs for the total number of people aged 100 years old or more, suggesting the nation is an aging society.

The statistics comprised of figures collected up until the end of last month.

The nation has 834 male and 1,342 female centenarians — 38 percent and 62 percent respectively — and 13 individuals over the age of 110, a record high in that category.

Liu Ching-huan (劉鏡寰) of Nantou County’s Puli Township (埔里) and Lin Chao-chih (林招治) of Hualien City are the two oldest women at 113 years, while Chang Wen-kuei (張文貴) of Greater Taichung’s Wuci District (梧棲) takes the title of the longest-lived man at 112 year-old, the ministry’s data showed.

The top six locations in terms of centenarian demographics corresponded with the five special municipalities and Taoyuan County, with 500 in Taipei — the highest number in a single city across the nation — 336 in New Taipei City (新北市), 161 in Greater Kaohsiung, 157 in Greater Taichung, 153 in Greater Tainan, and 143 in Taoyuan County, which could become the sixth special municipality in coming years.

Kinmen County and Lienchiang County, also called Matsu, were first and second respectively in the number of centenarians as a percentage of the total population of elderly people.

Social and Family Affairs Administration Deputy Director Chen Mei-hui (陳美蕙) said that the increase of centenarians may be due to the ease of access to medical facilities, the elevation of living standards and the betterment of social welfare benefits, adding that the reason rural townships and villages had higher percentages of centenarians may be due to the movement of young people away from smaller communities.

On Thursday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) visited Yang Jui at her residence in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) and were surprised at how young Yang appeared. Chiu and his entourage did not immediately realize they had found the 101-year-old.

Presenting Yang with a golden locket, Chiu asked if Yang had any tips to share concerning her longevity, but Yang simply laughed and said that she goes about her life as she normally would

“Eat mixed-grain rice more and be willing to let the difficulties in life slide by instead of dwelling on them,” she said.

Yang’s eldest son, Ker Tsung-hsien (柯宗賢), aged 78, said Yang never raised her voice in her life, adding that Yang always tells them to learn how to become more accepting of others and to place heavy emphasis on a balanced and nutritious diet, leaning heavily toward fish and vegetables and abstaining from excessive consumption of red meat.