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The 12 Most Common Health Concerns for Baby Boomers

Are you a Baby Boomer?

Do you want to know about the health concerns of your generation?

As the Baby Boomer generation gets older, many of them face additional health concerns. By educating yourself about these prevalent chronic diseases, you can be proactive and prevent these common chronic diseases as you age.

Making healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking, losing weight, and being physically active, and eating a healthy diet can help you avoid these senior health risks.

The health of baby boomers is a common concern among health care professionals and health care coverage groups.

This generation of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 makes up an estimated 26 to 28 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimate.

As people age, many health concerns increase due to chronic conditions.

By being informed of the most common health concerns among the baby boomer generation, and taking proactive measures, you may be one of the 41 percent of people over 65 who claim their health is good or excellent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you want to be proactive with your health concerns, this article will give you the resources to get you started.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer's Disease

Many baby boomers have Alzheimer’s disease. One in nine people over the age of 65 have this chronic condition.

In 2014, 92,604 deaths of people over the age of 65 were attributed to Alzheimer’s disease.

Once diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the disease cannot be reversed, but it can be slowed down with physical activity, a healthy diet, and staying mentally engaged.

Experts conclude that cognitive impairment has a big effect on a baby boomer’s health. Because of the cognitive impairment affecting memory, perception, reasoning, and even judgment – a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease can make a baby boomer unsafe and their other health conditions difficult to manage.

As the disease progresses, it can lead to additional health concerns that include depression, urinary tract infections, dehydration, pneumonia, and blood clots.

The risk factors of developing other health concerns are even higher in individuals with Alzheimer’s who also suffer from diabetes or high blood pressure.

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Institute of Aging has an excellent resource on Alzheimer’s disease.

Arthritis

Arthritis

As a baby boomer, you’re likely to face conditions affecting the health and quality of motion of your joints as you age.

Arthritis is one of the most common health concerns for people over 65 and can lead to pain and lower quality of life for some baby boomers.

  • From 2013–2015, an estimated 58.5 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.
  • Although arthritis can discourage you from being active, it’s important to work with your doctor or physical therapist to develop a Lifestyle Management Program that, along with other treatments, can help maintain your joint health.
  • Everyone with an “arthritis-attributable” limitation has arthritis and reports that their arthritis is responsible for specific limitations.
  • Even if you’re currently living with arthritis, these resources are available to help you maintain your joint health.

Heart Disease

Heart Disease and Health Concerns

As a health care provider, I know that the health concerns of baby boomers are different from those of past generations.

But as baby boomers age and their health needs change, they can still take steps to stay healthy.

  • According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading killer of adults over age 65.
  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • As a chronic condition, heart disease affects 37 percent of men and 26 percent of women 65 and older according to Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics.

As baby boomers age, they’re increasingly living with risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, that increase the chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

Heart disease is responsible for approximately one-third of all deaths in the United States.

Despite this, heart health is something many people neglect, especially during the holiday season when health takes a back seat to festivities!

The best way to prevent heart disease is through healthy eating and regular exercise.

Weight management often becomes more difficult as baby boomers age, so it’s even more important to eat healthfully and exercise regularly as we age.

To learn more about heart diseases, and to find more tools and resources, check out this page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC.

Cancer

Cancer is a disease in which some of the body’s cells grow uncontrollably. Sometimes they grow so many, they spread to other parts of the body.

Cancer can develop almost anywhere in the body, which is made up of trillions of cells. Human cells grow and duplicate to create new cells as needed throughout the body’s natural aging processes.

Cells that have aged or become damaged die, and new cells replace them.

However, sometimes the cells in the body are not behaving as they should. Healthy cells grow, but sometimes abnormal or damaged cells grow too.

Some cells that grow abnormally may form tumors. These can be cancerous or noncancerous (benign).

  • In the United States in 2018, 1,708,921 new cancer cases were reported and 599,265 people died of cancer.
  • For every 100,000 people, 436 new cancer cases were reported and 149 people died of cancer.

Baby Boomers’ risk factors, screening test usage, and the recent medical discoveries all have an impact on their number of cancer diagnoses and deaths.

Respiratory Diseases

Also called lung disorder and pulmonary disease.

According to cancer.gov, diseases that affect the lungs and other parts of the respiratory system are called respiratory diseases.

Respiratory diseases may be caused by things like infections, smoking tobacco, or secondhand tobacco smoke. You can also get them from breathing in things like asbestos or air pollution.

Respiratory diseases cause your body to have trouble breathing.

There are many different types of these, but they all have something to do with the lungs. Some respiratory diseases are asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, and lung cancer.

For more resources to help you learn more about how to lower your risk of developing respiratory diseases, visit this excellent resource from CDC.

Osteoporosis

Bone is living tissue that breaks down and replaces itself constantly. Osteoporosis is when you can’t make as much new bone as you lose old bone.

Since your body does not make bone as much as it loses it, osteoporosis makes your remaining bones weak and brittle.

This means that if you fall or even bend over, you could easily break a bone. Osteoporosis-related fractures happen most often in the hip, wrist, or spine.

Compared to other age groups, osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects both men and women of all races. However, white and Asian women, in particular, older women past menopause, are at the greatest risk.

With medications, a healthy diet, and weight-bearing physical activity or exercises, baby boomers can help prevent bone loss or strengthen already weak bones.

Diabetes

Diabetes Statistics
Source: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/library/socialmedia/infographics/diabetes.html

Diabetes is a health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.

Most of what we eat is turned into sugar and then released into our blood. When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas instructs the release of insulin.

Insulin is a key that allows glucose to enter your cells and be used as energy.

If you have diabetes, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should.

When there is too little insulin or your body no longer responds to insulin, the sugar in your blood stays there, causing serious health problems like heart disease, kidney disease, or vision loss.

If you want to learn more about diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has compiled a great resource page here.

Falls

Balance and Fall Prevention

It is not unusual for someone to fall at any age, but the facts and statistics on the incidence and risk of falling among the Baby Boomer generation might surprise you.

The statistics of falls among Boomers are real, and so are the consequences:

  • Every second of every day, an older adult falls.
  • More than one out of four older adults fall each year.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures result from a fall.
  • Falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries.
  • Each year, 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries.
  • Falling once doubles your risk of falling again.
  • Falls are very costly – financially, emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

By following these simple fall prevention strategies, you don’t have to be a part of the grim statistics of falling among the Boomer generation.

Depression

Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.

Depression is when you feel sad a lot and/or lose interest in things you once liked to do. It can cause many emotional and physical problems and can affect your ability to work and do other things.

Fortunately, depression is also treatable.

Baby boomers can reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Overweight or Obesity

Obesity

Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that is harmful to one’s health is referred to as obesity.

Being overweight or obese increases your chances of additional health risk factors, including:

  • hypertension,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • coronary heart disease,
  • stroke,
  • gallbladder disease,
  • osteoarthritis,
  • sleep apnea,
  • respiratory problems,
  • dyslipidemia
  • endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers.

If you are looking to get on the journey from being overweight to achieving a healthy weight you would need the right resources.

These in-depth guides and practical advice about obesity are available here.

Influenza and Pneumonia

Influenza

Although the flu and pneumonia aren’t chronic conditions, these infections are among the top eight causes of death in people over age 65, according to the CDC.

Seniors are more susceptible to these illnesses and less capable of fighting them off.

To prevent these infections and their potentially fatal consequences, baby boomers should receive an annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccination if recommended by their doctor. 

Shingles

Remember the chickenpox you had as a youngster? It may reoccur as shingles in adulthood.

Shingles (herpes zoster) is an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — the varicella-zoster virus.

The first sign of shingles is often burning or tingling pain (which can be severe), or sometimes numbness or itch, generally on one side of the body.

It can lead to health concerns like blindness, heart problems, and pneumonia. It’s common for people as they age, especially those with health conditions like diabetes, cancer, or lupus.

According to the National Institutes of Health, one out of three people over 60 will get shingles, and 50 percent of all Americans will experience it before they’re 80.

It can be challenging to maintain health as you age, especially if you are a baby boomer.

The most common health concerns for this generation might surprise you- depression, obesity, influenza and pneumonia, shingles.

There are many other health concerns that this generation needs to be aware of and take steps to prevent. These include, but are not limited to: heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

The best way to stay healthy as you age is to be proactive about your health and see your doctor regularly for check-ups.

Dr. Lex Gonzales
Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT is an author and speaker who has been working as a licensed healthcare professional for over 24 years. On drlexgonzales.com he provides quality information and practical solutions you can use to achieve the best version of your healthy self.

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