Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

February 7, 2013

Boomers may be living longer, but not as well

Mineral Wells Index

— From Staff Reports

Baby boomers are living longer than their parents but they are not as healthy, a new study says.

“The Status of Baby Boomers’ Health in the United States: The Healthiest Generation?” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine, says boomers born between 1946 and 1964 have higher rates of disease and disability than people the same age 15 to 20 years ago.

“Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age,” wrote the study’s authors, led by Dr. Dana E. King, professor and chair of family medicine at West Virginia University in Morgantown. “On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and [heart attacks] than the previous generation.”

Boomers are more likely to be limited in performing daily tasks and are twice as likely to use a cane. They’re also more likely to suffer from heart disease and diabetes.

JAMA’s summary cites that 78 million children (“baby boomers”) were born in the United States between 1946-64. In 2010, baby boomers made up 26.1 percent of the U.S. population.

“Medicine has improved significantly during baby boomers’ lifetimes. Although these advantages have led to a progressively increasing life expectancy, previous studies have shown mixed results regarding whether baby boomers are healthier than prior generations,” the authors wrote.

The present study examined the health status of aging baby boomers relative to the previous generation by comparing data from two sets of responses to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Baby boomers were between the ages of 46 and 64 (average age: 54.1) when they took the survey between 2007 and 2010. Their elders were in the same age range (average age: 54.5) when they took the survey between the years 1988 and 1994.

The study is intended to “provide a vitally important context for health workforce and policy planning in the coming years,” authors wrote.

For more on the report, visit http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1568518.

The Associated Press and JAMA contributed to this article.