A new study has found that the number of Ontario centenarians has increased by more than 70 per cent over the last 15 years, with women making up more than 85 per cent of those who are 100 years old or older.

The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that the number of centenarians in Ontario increased from 1,069 in 1995 to 1,842 in 2010, representing a 72.3 per cent increase. Of the centenarians, 6.7 per cent were 105 years old or older.

During this same time period the number of Ontarians between the ages of 85-99 increased from 119,955 to 227,703, representing an increase of 89.8 per cent.

Women made up 85.3 per cent of all centenarians and 89.4 per cent of all those aged 105 and older.

Dr. Paula Rochon, the study's lead author and scientist at the Women's College Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, says women outliving men is a trend that's seen globally.

"Some people think it may be related to lifestyle. Women are perhaps less likely to smoke, maybe they have better diets," Rochon told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

She also pointed out that women are more like to have chronic health conditions that are not fatal, such as arthritis, while men tend to have conditions that are more serious.

Rochon said the study highlights the need to tailor health and social services to meet the needs of seniors who are living longer.

"I don't think emergency rooms or hospitals are good places for people to be generally, or as older adults," she said. "We need to think about how do we prevent the need for these kinds of visits and how do we keep people healthy in their homes."

The study also found the following:

  • Almost half of the centenarians lived in the community; 20 per cent independently and 25.3 per cent with the support of publicly funded home care.
  • In the preceding year, 18.2 per cent of the centenarians were hospitalized and 26.6 per cent went to an ER.
  • More than 95 per cent of the centenarians saw a primary care provider and 5.33 per cent saw a geriatrician.

The study looked at the health administrative data of an estimated 1.8 million Ontarians who were 65-years-old or older between 1995 and 2010.

Rochon said as Ontario and Canada's senior population grows, all health care professionals should be trained to look after older individuals.

"That has to be the strategy moving forward," she said.