Baby boomers are sending themselves to an early grave… Are you at risk? 61



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Recently, an article published in Time Magazine caught our eye because quite frankly, it shocked us. Baby boomers are dealing with more health problems than ever before. The reports show that they’re significantly less healthy than people the same age just a decade ago. This data is sourced in America, however upon looking further into Australian research, it reflects an identical problem amongst Australian baby boomers.

The problems with the health of the generation are obvious, and we put most down to age. Arthritis is a leading cause of disability in Australia, affecting millions of Australians. And supporting the concept that age is the driving factor, 54.7% 65-74 year old women suffer from it and 37.2% of 65-74 year old men do too.

Heart disease ranks around fourth on the national list of chronic health priorities. And again, it is something we put down to age. Statistics reveal that 14.3% of women aged 65-74 and 20% of men aged 65-74 suffer from it, increasing to 26.5% of women and 29.5% of men who are 70 years and over.

Despite this, life expectancies have increased across the Australian population with significant growth for over 60s. Women aged 65 in 1960-1962 had an average life expectancy of 80.7 years and men had 77.5 years. Now, women aged 65 can expect to live to be 87.1 and men to 84.2.

So somehow we’re beating the odds that are seeing more incidences of heart disease, arthritis and cancer being diagnosed every year. But we cannot let ourselves get off that easy.

The truth is that despite the fact we have more health education now than ever before, we’re living very unhealthy lifestyles.

We’re one of the most prevalent smoking generations with 14.2% of people aged 55-64 smoking regularly. We also have the highest inactivity rate of any other age group with 40% of men and 49.1% of women being guilty of physical inactivity. Then there’s the diet – 37% of men have a poor diet with low fruit consumption, low vegetable consumption and high-added salt and 31.2% of women are the same. Then across both sexes, 8.1% of the over 65 population have risky alcohol consumption.

Although nothing quite reaches 50% of the population – there’s high enough statistics to show that a lot of us are being very, very ignorant. If there’s around 40% of over 60s living with these poor lifestyle choices, that equates to over 200,000 people in the Starts at 60 community. Essentially there are a whole lot of bad choices being made every day!

And that is just what they are – choices. The line is fine between living life to the fullest and being a worrywart who doesn’t live. Some people say they’d rather die young and have enjoyed the years than live long without happiness and it’s very true, but is there a way to have the best of both worlds? Health, happiness and a lifestyle you love to enjoy?

If you ask the experts, they say a very big yes… Yes, you can have it all and some community members have also said they agree! Last week, one community member shared on an article that she had cut out her nightly two glasses of wine on weeknights and over a month she’d lost weight! Then, substituting the afternoon sweet treat for an apple or a small handful of nuts cuts down your sugar intake, gives you slow releasing energy that stabilises the body and gives you nutrient rich calories – not empty ones!

The smallest changes can make the biggest difference and they mean that you can still enjoy your vices as treats! So why not change the healthy face of baby boomers with us today! Let’s all choose to make one healthy change this week that will change the way we live and give baby boomers a healthier reputation.

Some of our favourite options are:

  • Drink less: drink only on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Walk more: go for a 15-minute walk every morning or evening
  • Smoke less: Cut down your smoking by one cigarette a day – it adds to seven less every week and you can continue to reduce the number each week
  • Eat more raw food: Swap processed food for raw foot, eat more fruit and vegetables and perhaps have a salad instead of a sandwich one day a week

So tell us, do you consider yourself a healthy person? What is one thing you could do to make yourself healthier? Share your thoughts in the comments below…

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. None of my friends live as described by this article – nobody smokes, we all exercise (gym, running, dragonboat, kayaking) at least 4 times a week, we eat well and we don’t drink much. Where are those described in the article, I certainly don’t know them. It’s easier since retiring to get more exercise, and makes life more enjoyable.

    3 REPLY
    • Well said, I agree. My best investment- a good quality treadmill for the times when the weather is too wild to exercise outdoors, leaves no excuse not to exercise every day.

    • Best thing I ever found were pump and spin cycle classes for a really hard exercise pushing yourself up to a decent heart rate

  2. Our early years were spent running walking jumping and playing outside, if they think we are unhealthy, what will they think when the children today reach our age?

    1 REPLY
    • Totally agree Libbi, my husband and I often say that. Perhaps public health officials and governments should start trying to encourage the young ones to enjoy a healthy lifestyle with attention to good foods, regular exercise and activities and less binge drinking, drug taking and partying.

  3. I can recommend getting rid of sugar from your diet. Out of necessity for my husband’s health, sugar is gone. If we need a sweet treat, I use Stevia. I am now wearing clothes I couldn’t get into last year. As I have said before, we look after our cars better than we look after our bodies.

    2 REPLY
    • Wish I had the will power to do that. But so many things contain sugar. Things like bread and frozen vegs and fruit etc. They use sugar as a preservative.

  4. Ruth, simply drinking tea and coffee without sugar and making rolled oats for breakfast will help. I look at the nutritional information on all products. If the sugar content is 5 grms per 100 germs or less, I will purchase. This is only a teaspoon of sugar and the body can cope with that. I am not totally rigid, but there is so much sugar in manufactured goods. We eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables as the sugar in its natural state isn’t damaging.

  5. my parents generation were of the ‘treat the symptom…not the cause’ era….and I think there has been a bit of an overflow effect from that into the baby boomers….but both myself and most of my friends are a lot better educated about our health these days….it is very easy to research your conditions and gain your own information on how you are going to treat it….also a lot of alternative choices are available….it’s just common sense really….

  6. None of my friends smoke, most of us do formal exercise of some sort every week and then other informal exercise. We don’t drink to excess. My husband and I eat mainly home cooked meals made from scratch, very few packets or tinned additions. We’ve cut our sugar intake down massively in the last five or so years. We are also firefighters in our local RFS, which keeps us physically active, at least with training even when there are no fires, accidents or hazard reduction burns to attend. Unlike young ones of today, we both had very, very active lives during our childhood, teens and early teens, which I think has helped maintain our health into our 60s. Our cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure are all excellent without any prescribed medication.

  7. How much has life expectancy really risen? Improvements in neonatal care, the reduction in childhood deaths because of vaccinations, antibiotics, mean that FAR fewer young people die. These early deaths used to depress the average life expectancy. Did, in the past you have less chance of reaching adulthood, but about the same life expectancy as now if you did?

    1 REPLY
    • You’re absolutely right Frances. Looking at the ages people died in Central Europe in the 17th to early 20th century, I discovered those who survived childhood (14 years of age) and did not die in war/accidents generally reaching a ripe old age of 80 plus. Imho it is necessary to qualify the stats to get a realistic picture.
      Incidentally, I do not know anyone either who fits the description in the article. I too exercise daily, have a sugar consumption of about 1 kg p.a. (1 Tbs per loaf of bread; yes, I make my own); have no processed food, drink about 2 bottles of wine p.a. and yes, sadly I am overweight.

  8. We are living longer so we have to do healthier things to do this? Doesn’t make sense. If we are all so unhealthy how come we are living longer? Because of medical science? Maybe. Because we spent our youth outdoors walking and doing physical exercise and working hard to make this a prosperous country? Or because we did not have the fast food outlets and convenience food in an ever expanding selection at the supermarket? Because we ate natural foods that were not laced with artificial this or that and we did not have farmers pouring poison into the soil in order to get more and more out of the ground? If, whoever does these surveys, was to look at the generations following us I think you will find that our health, on average, is better able to withstand the test of time than the younger generations, hence why we are living longer. Only medical science can save the latest generations because their food has no nutritional value, their exercise regime is woefully inadequate and their mental capacity will be diminished because they do not actually have to use their brains. Computers will do everything for them. All in all I am glad I was born in a time when life was simpler and healthier.

  9. Dpends on the individual, I know people who exercise and eat well, and drink less than their children. Do a survey on any generation and you will find people who don’t take care of themselves and area at risk.

  10. My grandparents lived to their 90s, loved bread and dripping and put salt on their food, maybe it is food changed from being mostly natural and home made that made the difference, if so of the up coming generations who cooks from scratch, never eats takeaway or drinks too much. Would be interesting to see a survey done on them in thirty years time.

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