Trend-bucking women are living longer

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WIGAN’S women pensioners can expect to live longer than their predecessors 10 years ago, but are still dying earlier than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

But females aged over 60 in the borough are bucking another trend as their life expectancy has increased over the last decade, whereas the national picture has shown a fall for the first time in 20 years.

The latest figures from Public Health England show that in 2011-13 the average Wigan woman aged 75 can expect to live another 11.8 years, compared with 10.4 years in 2001-03.

But women elsewhere in the country are living almost two years longer than Wiganers.

Similarly Wigan women aged 85 and over can expect to extend their years by 6.3 years, which is almost a year less than 2001-03’s figure of 5.5.

But they are still expected to be outlived by women in other areas, as the national average is 6.8 years.

On the opposite end of the scale, however, women in the 60 to 64 age bracket have shortened their lives, as they are expected to live another 19.5 years, but in 2001-03 they could look forward to another 21.4 years.

Men are also living longer, but the borough’s women are predicted to outlast them, by an average of between one to two years.

However, in line with the fall in life expectancy for women aged 60 to 64, the borough’s men in that age group will outlive them, with another 21.3 years ahead of them.

The rise in life expectancy in Wigan has been attributed to Wigan Council’s public health team’s work on weight loss and healthy living schemes, as well as its stop smoking services, where the borough is closing the gap on adult smoking prevalence with the England average from 4.7 per cent in 2010 to 1.8 per cent in 2014.

And at 20.2 per cent, Wigan is only 0.1 per cent above the North West average.

Prof Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “Our figures have been bucking the national trend with life expectancy rising among women and men generally.

“In Wigan borough, a range of local and national measures such as tighter legislation on cigarettes has meant fewer people now smoke.

“This has had a positive impact on the rates of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease which has helped people to remain healthier as they get older.

“We recognise the 60-64 age group has seen a fall.

“This could be due to the rise in smoking in women observed around 40 to 50 years ago, giving rise to what is called a cohort effect, as well as random variation when one examines smaller numbers of deaths.

“We are re-targeting our efforts for that group through schemes like the Heart of Wigan campaign and help to quit smoking.

“But overall it shows that Wigan’s health is improving through schemes like the NHS health check which has had a great response from older people, along with the work from Lose Weight, Feel Great programme and our newer Age Well programme to improve life expectancy.”