When it comes to the health of senior citizens, it appears that the next generation will not only be sicker, but also costlier in comparison to previous generations. Based off of a 2016 report, released by the United Health Foundation, this data is a call to action for both individuals and their communities.
Although this data is based on American statistics, similar trends are being seen throughout Canada. Rates of diabetes, hypertension, and obesity continue to climb, leading to a wide spectrum of chronic diseases. What does this mean for baby boomers, as well as our health care system?
Report Finds — Baby Boomers Will Be Sicker Than Previous Generations
This recent report focused on the health status of individuals aged 50 to 64, comparing them to the same age group in 1999. While focusing on baby boomers and related data, it was reported that 55 percent more seniors will have diabetes and 25 percent will be more obese, in comparison to past generations.
When it all boils down, it was estimated that the next generation of senior citizens will be 9 percent less likely to be in good or excellent overall health. As you can imagine, this will place an immense amount of strain on the health care system and on the financial state of not only America but Canada as well.
Not all of the news is bad news, however, as rates of smoking have dramatically decreased. Compared to the current senior population when they were middle-aged, the next generations of seniors will smoke 50 percent less. In that sense, some trends are positive and heading in the right direction.
Although the decrease in smoking is great, this shift is even more exciting — showing that changing health behaviors are possible. It’s clear that health professionals and policymakers used strategies to reduce rates of smoking, which will be a good model to use when targeting the obesity and diabetes epidemic.
Canadian Baby Boomers Will Be No Better
Of course, in many ways, Canadians and Americans are vastly different, especially in terms of health care. With that being said, based on lifestyle choices, we’re fairly similar. Considering rates of diabetes and obesity are the largest current concerns, it’s important that we focus on our diet and level of physical activity.
As stated by the Heart and Stroke Foundation within a 2013 report, although baby boomers have big aspirations for their later years, without immediate action, they may spend their remaining years in sickness and disability. How can this be? We are living longer than ever before — how can we be getting sicker?
Yes, Canadians are living longer than ever before, but on average, there’s a 10-year gap between how long we live and how long we live in good health. This gap is based on chronic conditions, as well as heart disease and stroke. Amazingly, 80 percent of Canadian baby boomers think that their doctors would rate them as healthy — expect here are the facts:
- 85 percent of baby boomers do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Over 40 percent are not getting enough weekly physical exercise
- 30 percent said they often or always feel stressed
- 21 percent currently smoke
- 11 percent are heavy drinks
Perhaps what’s even more alarming, is that 74 percent of baby boomers did not know that they can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke by up to 80 percent through key lifestyle changes. It is the lifestyle choices we make, which lead to 10 years of sickness, on average. All of the information is available, it’s just a matter of proper education and overall awareness.
Ensure that you live the last years of your life in good health — so that quality life is not lost. Many aspects of poor health later in life are preventable, based on the choices we make day in and day out. To get started, check out the Eat Well — Live Longer brochure, presented by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
7 Quick Tips for Better Nutrition as we get Older
Even in my mid-thirties, I can see how our bodies change in terms of what food we can and should eat. As a former nutritionist and granddaughter to three amazing octogenarians, I have worked hard to devise some advice on how we should eat as we get older. In doing so, we have distilled it into 7 simple pieces of advice ranging from cooking your own meals to drinking lots of water. You can read the full list in this article on good nutritional habits for older adults.
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