New figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) showed a 0.3 percent rise in the proportion of senior citizens in the Turkish population, a slight but significant increase as the country is concerned about an ageing population.
TurkStat's compilation of "Senior Citizens Statistics" for 2013-2014 ranks Turkey 94th among 228 countries in terms of a high elderly population.
According to the 2014 figures, Turkey has a population of senior citizens aged 65 and above of 6.1 million, a number higher than the total population of several European countries.
Although they made up 8 percent of the overall population last year, TurkStat projections show that the proportion of the elderly will increase to 10.2 percent by 2023 and rise further in the following decade. Figures suggest that the Turkish population will be categorized as "very old" by 2023. The United Nations describes countries with a senior citizen population between 8 percent and 10 percent as "old."
Sinop, a small city on the coast of Black Sea and the northernmost point of Turkey, has the largest senior population at 17.6 percent of the total city population. Hakkari, the southeastern city that is home to a large Kurdish population has the smallest senior population at 2.9 percent.
TurkStat also gave the number of centenarians as 5,283 people, with Istanbul having the highest number of people aged 100 and above with 651.
Figures point to a wide gap in different fields based on gender. The number of unmarried women is more than half of unmarried men at the age of 65 and above. Women's life expectancy at birth is higher than men with 79.4 years.
TurkStat figures indicate that three of every four citizens living alone are women, and this number increased slightly in 2014.
A worrying figure is the number of senior citizens dying of Alzheimer's. It rose to 3.6 percent in 2013 from 2.9 percent in 2011. The primary cause of death for seniors is cardiovascular diseases. The increase in cardiovascular diseases is attributed to a sedentary lifestyle that has become increasingly common in Turkey as well as unhealthy nutritional habits.
Figures show that the major source of income for senior citizens is social benefits with the majority of them living on pensions. Only 11.5 percent of the senior population was employed last year, and the majority of them were men. The senior population is mostly employed in the agricultural sector, according to TurkStat.
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