April 30, 2013
When caring for an aging loved one, you’ve likely had moments in which you’ve vowed to stay healthy as you age and hope you won’t be dependent on someone to care for you in your later years. But the fact is, especially with the pressures of caregiving, it’s important to take stock of your own habits if you want to live healthier than your parents’ generation.
The baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is often portrayed as being more fit, active and youthful than their parents at the same age. But according to a February 2013 Bloomberg.com article, baby boomers have more chronic illness and disability as a result of unhealthy living. The article quotes a study in JAMA Internal Medicine showing that Americans born between 1946 and 1964 are more overweight, engage in less physical activity and have higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol.
Startling Report: We’re Sicker than Our Parents’ Generation
Among the study’s findings:
- Fifty percent of boomers say they get no regular physical activity versus 17 percent of their parents.
- More boomers have high blood pressure and high cholesterol and are taking more medicines to treat those conditions than previous generations.
- Forty percent of boomers are obese, compared to 29 percent a generation ago.
- Fourteen percent of boomers have diabetes, compared to 12 percent in previous generations.
In actuality, boomers are getting sicker earlier in life, are more limited in the work they can do and are more likely to need the use of a cane or walker. According to Dana E. King, the lead author of the JAMA study, “The results of this study say you become sicker sooner and you are burdened with chronic disease and are taking medications, yet you live longer. There needs to be a new emphasis and continued attention to programs to improve healthy lifestyles in this age group.”
You Can Turn the Tide
If you’re sandwiched between caring for your parents and your own family, time to care for yourself may often get pushed aside. And while society has been blessed to have the conveniences of transportation, technology and electronic devices our parents didn’t have, these have undoubtedly contributed to inactivity for this and future generations. It’s becoming increasingly important to change the course of this unhealthy trend.
Recipe for Better Health
Physical activity and a healthy diet are the main ingredients, but stress reducers also play an important role. Here are some resources to help you and your loved ones live an overall healthier lifestyle.
- Find practical tips in the food, nutrition and fitness section here at CaregiverStress.com®.
- Get away from caregiving duties and add extra time for exercise and rest into your routine by using Respite Care Services.
- Learn how to avoid hospital readmissions with these Chronic Condition Fact Sheets.
Fight the Trend
The JAMA study results are a wake-up call to start developing healthy habits now so you can add vitality—not just length—to your life and truly enjoy your final years.
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