If you were born between 1946 and 1964, you are one of approximately 76 million people in the United States known as “baby boomers.” You may be reaching retirement age shortly, or getting ready to go on Medicare. But whatever your plans are, you’re likely dealing with medical problems that are common among your age group. Take a look below at some of the top baby boomer health issues:
Type 2 diabetes
The Centers for Disease Control stated that in 2011 people age 65-74 were 13 times more likely than those under 45 to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk for other health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, vision loss, and more. However, lifestyle changes and early medical intervention may be able to help manage this condition.
For adults over age 60, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one in three adults already has high blood pressure. Things you can do to mitigate the effects include quitting smoking, losing weight, reducing the amount of salt and fat that you consume, and getting plenty of exercise.
For adults aged 65 and older, cancer is the second leading cause of death (after heart disease). As we age, our risk for certain types of cancers increase, including lung, skin, colon, breast, and prostate cancer. To reduce your risk, quit smoking (and avoid secondhand smoke), and be sure you’re screened regularly for the other above-mentioned types of cancer.
It is believed that more than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 and older suffer from depression. At times, people struggle with this disease for years or even decades before seeking or receiving treatment. Often, a combination of therapy and medication is beneficial, and the sooner it is sought, the better.
Cataracts may be an inevitable part of aging, affecting almost 20.5 million Americans 40 and over. By the time they reach age 80, more than half of Americans will suffer from cataracts. However, advances in technology mean cataract surgery has been shown to be shorter, easier, and even more effective than ever before.
Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, with the majority of victims being 65 and older. However, early-onset Alzheimer’s can strike those in their 50’s and even their 40’s. There appears to be a strong link to cardiovascular fitness and Alzheimer’s, so maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels may be paramount when it comes to prevention.
Osteoarthritis refers to the pain, stiffness, and swelling that can result when cartilage around your joints starts to wear away. This results in the bones rubbing together, causing discomfort. Unfortunately, it is brought on by the aging process as well as physical activity, though pain medication and joint replacement are two possible options for treatment.
Many baby boomers fall into what we call “the sandwich generation.” This means that they’re taking care of aging parents in addition to looking after their own children. With this role comes a great deal of caregiver stress, which can significantly and negatively affect health. Reaching out to support groups and learning ways to reduce the pressure you feel will go a long way in managing this stress.
Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing baby boomer health issues
If you have baby boomer health issues like the ones above, then clearly you are not alone. Talk to your physician about any concerns you may have. And remember – stress tends to exacerbate almost any illness or medical condition. If you’re taking care of someone else and trying to cope with your own problems at the same time, it’s especially important to decrease your stress and protect your well-being. We know this is easier said than done, but by taking small steps today, you can enjoy good health for many years to come.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.