A leading neuroscientist has claimed that though the number of Britons celebrating their 100th year has increased, so has the age-related diseases that often accompany old-age.
Cambridge University neuroscientist Dr Guy Brown has warned that the boom in Britons touching 100 and beyond means that the fight against age-related diseases will soon be as important as tackling global warming and terrorism.
According to Dr Brown, steady enhancements in lifetime indicate that more and more people will spend the last decades of their life struggling with disability and dementia.
Recent statistics put the number of centenarians at 9,000, and experts predict that this figure could rise to 1million by 2074.
However, Dr Brown says that the added years will be prone to deteriorating health, with up to half of the 100-year-olds of the future facing dying with dementia.
Dr Brown, an expert in the degenerative disease, called for more money to be immediately put into the care of the elderly as well as researches into age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's.
"Imagine the consequences if this nightmare becomes reality. Imagine the psychological consequences of expecting to develop dementia. Imagine the economic consequences of providing one-to-one round-the-clock care for decades on end for millions of demented or disabled people. Yet we are doing absolutely nothing about it. Death, dying and dementia are nowhere on the political agenda," the Daily Mail quoted him, as saying.
"Research funding needs to be redirected here rather than aimed at simply preventing death. We have to develop alternative routes to drug development for therapies that don't make economic sense for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries to pursue. Hospices ought to be as ubiquitous and well-funded as maternity hospitals," he added.
In an article entitled The Bitter End, published in 'New Scientist', Dr Brown warned that "the future is not just old, it's extremely old".
"Death is not the enemy; it is an integral part of life. It is ageing and its diseases we should be fighting. Attacking them will be at least as important in the 21st century as efforts to tackle terrorism and global warming," he added.