What about the Baby Boomers Health?
There is concern about baby boomers health in part because there are so many of them and they are rapidly entering their senior years. While baby boomers have not escaped a general epidemic of obesity and lack of exercise, there are many positives that are leading to boomers experiencing longer and healthier lives.
A group as large as the 78 or so million baby boomers affects every sector of society and the economy. Baby boomer health is certainly no exception. Boomers amount to 29% of the population and just as they swung the demographics to a youth culture beginning in the mid 60’s, they may now be swinging the population to more of a geriatric culture.
Not only are there more of the baby boomers, they are living longer. The average male baby boomer can expect to live 22 years longer and the average female boomer can expect to live 25 more years.
So, who cares the Baby Boomers Health?
It is obvious that health problems often come along with aging. The elderly can often experience complex chronic disease that is both difficult and costly to treat. The good news is that baby boomers may be a good deal healthier in some respects than previous generations. This is as the result of the advances in medicine, especially preventative medicine, that have benefited them throughout their lives. Diagnostic advances such as the CAT scan and the MRI, widespread use of screening exams for breast, prostate and colon cancers, and other technologies has meant earlier detection and better success rates for cures.
On the other hand, baby boomers as a group are also heirs to the epidemic of obesity and a society-wide lack of sufficient exercise. At present, the first cohort of baby boomers who are now 55 to 64 years old are experiencing an obesity rate of 39% This is a strong warning sign for a significant increase in cases of diabetes, which brings with it more rapid aging and a host of complications which include more heart disease, blindness, amputations and other disability.
One common age-related illness is osteoarthritis, which results from the linings of joints literally wearing out. Obesity as well as the aging process contribute to the development of this disease, which can result in both disabling pain and loss of mobility and function. While there is still no cure or absolute prevention for osteoarthritis, there have been great advances in treatments which will benefit the health of baby boomers. Medications have improved for controlling pain, and some treatments can replace the joint fluids with decrease with aging. In addition, the science of artificial joint replacement has made recovery of nearly full function from even severely damaged joints possible.
The health of baby boomers, while bringing several concerns, is so good that it may have the effect of keeping them in the workforce much longer than the usual age of 65. About 80% of all baby boomers state that they plan to work full or part time past that age. Some may be forced to do so by economic necessity, but others simply feel well and are not ready to let a number put them on the retirement shelf.