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Keywords:

  • centenarians;
  • health service use;
  • advanced age

Objectives

To better understand how centenarians use the healthcare system as an important step toward improving their service delivery.

Design

Population-based retrospective cohort study using linked health administrative data.

Setting

Ontario—Canada's largest province.

Participants

All individuals living in Ontario aged 65 and older on April 1 of each year between 1995 and 2010 were identified and divided into three age groups (65–84, 85–99, ≥100). A detailed description was obtained on 1,842 centenarians who were alive on April 1, 2010.

Measurements

Sociodemographic characteristics and use of health services.

Results

The number of centenarians increased from 1,069 in 1995 to 1,842 in 2010 (72.3%); 6.7% were aged 105 and older. Over the same period, the number of individuals aged 85 to 99 grew from 119,955 to 227,703 (89.8%). Women represented 85.3% of all centenarians and 89.4% of those aged 105 and older. Almost half of centenarians lived in the community (20.0% independently, 25.3% with publicly funded home care). Preventive drug therapies (bisphosphonates and statins) were frequently dispensed. In the preceding year, 18.2% were hospitalized and 26.6% were seen in an emergency department. More than 95% saw a primary care provider, and 5.3% saw a geriatrician.

Conclusion

The number of centenarians in Ontario increased by more than 70% over the last 15 years, with even greater growth among older people who could soon become centenarians. Almost half of centenarians live in the community, most are women, and almost all receive care from a primary care physician.