Today’s baby boomers are faced with many different health care challenges that their parents did not have to face. One of the largest of the challenges is how to get good health care when and if they need it.
By now it should come as no surprise that the baby boomer generation is larger than any of the previous generations in history and that fact alone will possibly put a strain on the health care system in the U.S. Several recent studies have shown eye opening results and not all of them in the baby boomers favor. The facts are in and it has become clear that the baby boomer generation is going to receive a failing grade when it comes to their health.
Would baby boomers like to live longer without health issues? If you’re a U.S. baby boomer, the odds are in your favor for living longer, yet against you on matters of good health. Research now shows that baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, may be living longer than their parents, but those boomers are plagued with more illnesses then their parents generation. The choice of living a longer, healthier life will be dumped squarely into the baby boomers lap.
A recent study that resulted in our first eye opening look at baby boomers health – The nationwide survey by the West Virginia University School of Medicine compared the previous generation to baby boomers and discovered surprising results:
- Only 13 percent of boomers reported “excellent” health vs. 32 percent of their parents’ generation.
- Almost 39 percent of boomers were obese vs. 29 percent of their parents’ generation.
- About 16 percent of boomers were diabetic vs. 12 percent of their parents’ generation.
If 13 percent reporting excellent health did not start you wondering about your own health then the 39 percent obesity rate and the 16 percent diabetic baby boomers should have. The parents of the baby boomers have beaten them hands down on health and well being. That fact alone is surely enough to make the baby boomer angry. They do not like to lose – PERIOD! So what could some of the causes be for this decline in baby boomer health?
1. The most striking cause is what types of foods the baby boomer generation has been eating. Processed foods, junk foods and gallons of unhealthy sugary beverages are the largest part of the problem. Most baby boomers have moved away from the home meals cooked with fresh ingredients to the quicker, less wholesome variations of the same foods their parents made.
2. No exercise. The next culprit to robbing the baby boomer of their health is the lack of doing any exercise at all. Not walking, playing a tennis match or even swimming has contributed to our over sized waistlines. The truly sad part is that most baby boomers know they should exercise more but will be quick to tell us that they just do not have the time or they will come up with some other excuse.
So the end result is an unhealthy generation of people, who happen to be the largest generation in the U.S. and that will quickly lead us to a health care issue. If baby boomers don’t change what they are eating and begin to exercise more the health care industry will be try to take care of them.
Health care for boomers is on the rise, including assistance from senior in-home caregivers, who help the double digit number of boomers who use a cane or walker compared to the last generation. You do not have to be a mathematician to realize that the growing numbers of unhealthy baby boomers will strain the health care system to the max unless they decide to change.
So what’s a boomer to do to live longer with steady health?
- Get an annual physical and then follow your doctor’s advice
- Stay active – Retirement is the time to slow your pace, but not your need for regular exercise.
- Keep up wholesome nutrition. Increase your fiber and lower your total fat intake. And most of all drink more water.
- If you smoke, quit. Seek medical help with how to ease off nicotine entirely.
- Laugh more. Keep a positive perspective. As psychologist and philosopher William James once said, “We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.”
That last point is one that many will feel silly but bear in mind that the health care situation for all baby boomers is no laughing matter and living a long life is what you desire than you better get going. Each day that passes puts you closer to the end than you want to think about and our health care system can only handle so much. Do not become one of those baby boomers who are putting pressure on health care.
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