The swell of aging baby boomers, who are expected to live long into their golden years, is strongly influencing how communities plan and set policies for the care and housing of a vast elder population. Although we know more now than ever about the benefits of a healthy diet, stress management, and exercise to promote overall health, a new study shows that boomers are less healthy than their parents were at the same age.
It may be surprising to learn that rising rates of diabetes and depression have triggered a spike in chronic health conditions among baby boomers when so many of the generation continue to be active, engaged and working. Research has found that rising rates of obesity and social factors including wage disparity have driven a trend for multiple chronic illnesses in older adults. Among adults with comorbidities, hypertension and arthritis were the most common health conditions in both older and younger baby boomers.
The news is not all bad however, with early screening and new treatment options, more older adults can live longer, and healthier lives. Technology improvements that have led to more early diagnoses of chronic illnesses also help to account for increased rates of reported health conditions among the baby boomer generation. With early interventions including lifestyle changes, boomers can continue to lead healthy, active, independent, and long lives.
To ease the burden of disease on healthcare systems, researchers stress the importance of staying physically active, eating a nutritious diet, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Regular aerobic and strength-training exercises can also help promote balance and mobility and reduce the risk for falls that can lead to injury and a loss of independence.