Updated: Sep 28, 2021
A lot of baby boomers are wondering what they should be concerned about when it comes to their health. The answer is that there are many different things to be aware of, but these seven issues top the list of most common concerns for people born between 1946- 1964. We are in our 50s, 60s, and 70s today. With this new stage in life comes some changes to your health concerns. At the bottom of the email we have given you access to a free checklist that lists the symptoms to watch for for some of the diseases we mentioned here.
As a baby boomer and a health care professional I am all too well aware of the health challenges we face. As an R.N. practicing now for 40 years it has become all too real when I see very sick people coming into the hospital that are my age or even younger. It has lit a fire under me to pay attention to my body and do what I can to live a longer healthy life.
I have not always made the best health decisions. Just 18 months ago I was the heaviest I have ever weighed. I had the dreaded “morbid obesity” diagnosis on my health chart at the clinic and that did not sit well with me. I have decided it is not too late to change my ways and this dog has learned some new tricks! I want to help people stay healthy or return to a healthy state of being instead of caring for people who are already sick. I want to make a positive impact on people and help keep them out of the hospital instead of having to be admitted. This has become a true passion of mine and I am doing everything I can to provide tools, education, programs, and products that I use and has helped me get my health back and feel good! Many of these are free, so don’t hesitate to get on the email list so you can be informed of what’s next that I will be sharing! You may CLICK HERE to get on the “stay informed” list.
Ok, let’s get back to the discussion. We have broken down the top 7 Health Challenges that face Baby Boomers today. The sad thing is that prevention and a healthy lifestyle can often help to prevent many of these from raising their ugly heads! Baby Boomers are living longer and with that comes with having to deal with many body parts that are wearing out. These would include our joints, our heart and other organs.
1. Adult-Onset Diabetes or Type II Diabetes. This one is huge due to the obesity crisis we as Americans face today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of adults with diabetes has more than tripled in the last 20 years. This coincides with the aging of the US population and an increase in obesity rates. Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for diabetes. Poor eating choices and habits have contributed to our obesity and puts a strain on our body called “insulin resistance” This leads to elevated blood sugars and if not nipped in the bud can lead to Type II Diabetes.
Diabetes is one disease you most certainly want to avoid. Diabetes effects every system and leads to more health challenges including kidney disease and failure, fatty liver disease from obesity, high blood pressure, vision loss, neuropathy causes lack of feeling to your legs and feet, poor circulation that can lead to amputation of limbs and the list goes on. This is one disease I do not want! Since this affects so many things, we have many programs and education geared toward healthy eating and reducing your blood sugar before it becomes a problem.
2. Heart Disease. This is another disease that a healthy lifestyle and good food choices can go along way. Family history has something to be said here but that should give you all the more reason to want to jump on the healthy living bandwagon! In a recent study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, Baby Boomers (middle-aged adults) who drank more than one soft drink daily, either diet or regular, have an increased health risk by more than 40 percent of either having or developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that elevate the likelihood of heart disease and diabetes. Avoiding tobacco products and making healthy food choices can go along way in preventing heart disease. Make sure you are aware of your cholesterol levels both good and bad and ask your provider what your cardiac “risk score” is and what you can start doing about it now.
3. Alzheimer’s Disease and other Dementias. This is a huge fear of baby boomers. The CDC says that the number of people living with Alzheimer’s is projected to be 14 million by 2050. No one knows what causes Alzheimer’s for sure. Once again living a healthy lifestyle and keeping your brain active can help to prevent this disease. I always talk about how it is never too late to turn your passion into profit, or volunteer, run a charitable organization, or write a book, whatever your passion or purpose might me (we all have one, we just need to figure out what is ours) do something to challenge yourself and keep your mind sharp. I believe in the saying that “if you are not ripening, you are rotting”! You can’t have it both ways. Alcohol intake can be directly related to memory and brain function concerns and certain dementias can be related to many years of over indulgence of alcohol. It is never too late to seek help and it is never too late quit. Alcoholism runs in our family and I have seen the strokes, the liver disease, and other diseases caused by excess alcohol consumption.
4. High Blood Pressure: This can be a concern by itself or be a result of some other illness or disease that has caused the high blood pressure. The biggest concern if uncontrolled is having a stroke. Pay attention to headaches, light headedness, blurred vision, that could be symptoms of elevated blood pressure. If you happen to be one of those that have a family history and you can’t figure out why you have elevated blood pressures don’t hesitate to get treatment and start that healthy lifestyle you still have time to begin. Simple things like increased salt intake can have an impact on your blood pressure because increased salt leads to fluid retention which leads to more blood volume your heart has to circulate making your heart pump harder in older blood vessels and there you have it. Your blood pressure has to go up in this situation. It took a stroke for my dad to get serious about making better health choices.
5. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Chronic lung disease is a very unpleasant way to have to live. Once oxygen dependent, it makes it difficult to enjoy your life. Smoking is the big contributor here but there are other conditions and exposures that can lead to COPD. As we get older, we are also more susceptible to flu and pneumonia. Our immune system weakens and leaves the door open for us to get sick. Keeping our immune system boosted and healthy can go along way to help support our bodies to continue to care for us.
6. Cancer: Everyone dreads the big “C” word and the trouble is no one is immune. People of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicity can suffer from Cancer. Many cancers can be contributed to life style choices so again it is imperative to try and eat healthy, maintain a normal body weight, exercise and get enough sleep and control the amount of “bad” stress you have in your life. A tall order is feels like but I firmly believe that where there is a will there is a way. Timing has to be right for you to make the decision to change, draw a line in the sand and make a conscious choice to change. You can do it and we can help!! I just want to mention here a blurb about skin cancer. Unprotected exposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer and certain types of skin cancer can be terminal. Your skin needs your attention along with the rest of your body and the skin, in fact, is your body’s largest organ.
7. Sandwich Generation Stress Factors: In making sure I hit all the area I needed to touch base on I found an interesting mention of Caregiver stress as being a big concern for baby boomers caring for elderly parents or an aging spouse. This labor of love can be extremely stressful and stress can cause the biggest wear and tear on you body. There are resources and one of my companies I started with a fellow nurse addresses this concern full out. We have a Patient Advocate business where we help adult children of aging parents find resources and put plans in place to help meet the needs of their aging parents or spouse and give them some piece of mind while reducing stress of having to care for their own family and a parent or spouse. We have you covered in this area as well! We do weekly interviews with health care professionals, articles, printable checklists and handouts along with 1:1 consulting services to meet the needs of the caregivers as well as the parent or spouse. We even wrote a book called Cracking the Hospice Code, Your Nurse Advocates Debunk the Top 10 Misconceptions of Hospice. Here we help families know when the right time for hospice might be and address all the concerns people have before deciding to choose hospice as a care option. If you may be interested in learning more about hospice you can find our book HERE
This wraps up the top 7 health concerns for us baby boomers but I also wanted make mention of some items that while not making the top seven did make it to the “worth mentioning list”.
1. Preventing falls
2. Taking care of yourself in the event that you become disabled or sick. What is your back up plan if this happens?
3. Lack of exercise-get moving. Walking and Yoga can be 2 great ways to exercise and increase flexibility. If getting on the floor is an issue for you find a Yoga instructor that teaches “chair yoga” or look into Chi Gong which doesn’t have any difficult poses.
4. Depression and loneliness-This can be a serious concern so if you are feeling isolated, not having any interest in anything, not eating or sleeping or other signs of depression please seek help.
5. Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis affects millions of people in America today, especially women who have passed menopause.
It's not too late to start taking care of yourself! We all know that as we age, our bodies will change. You might be experiencing some health concerns that are specific to your age group. If you're over 55, it is time to check in with the doctor and see what changes you are willing to make to get on the “healthy and narrow”.
The baby boomer generation is the largest living demographic in the United States. It is estimated that there are over 77 million baby boomers. This group of people are retiring, and many are concerned about their health. As a result, they are turning to articles like this one for information on how to stay healthy at any age. Try and incorporate these suggestions into your lifestyle 1) Exercise- Exercise has been shown time and again to be essential for maintaining good health among older adults 2) Nutrition- Eating nutritious foods can help your body fight off disease 3) Sleep- Getting enough sleep helps regulate hormones which affect our metabolism 4) Stress reduction- Stress may weaken immune system response 5) Medication use - It's important to take your medication as directed and don’t stop unless you talk to your doctor first.
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Thanks for taking time out of your busy life to spend a few minutes here!!
Please feel free to drop a comment or a question regarding other baby boomer issues you are concerned with or would like to learn more about. Here is the button to gain access to the free checklist on recognizing some symptoms you may need to talk to your doctor about.