Baby Boomers are getting older, living longer but with growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Not exactly the picture of enjoying a healthy, vibrant future for those in their silver or golden years. In fact, those turning 65 today “are more likely to live longer than their parents and grandparents, and much more likely to live sicker for a longer period of time,” commented Dr. Rhonda Randall, a senior adviser to the not-for-profit United Health Foundation which commissioned America’s Health Rankings® Senior Edition: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities.
This research confirmed that a serious health care crisis is brewing and vital for implementing strategies especially now since America’s senior population will grow by more than 50 percent in the next 15 years.
America’s Health Rankings has tracked the health of the nation for the past 23 years, offering insights into American health as well as state-by-state. The 2012 report suggests Americans are struggling to change unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and obesity, at the root of many health problems but challenging to get needed results.
Nearly 80% of seniors are living with at least one chronic health condition and half have two or more according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 70% have heart disease, 60% have arthritis, 25% are clinically obese and 20% diagnosed with diabetes. Obesity rates for those 50-64 year old have increased 8% from 1995 to 2010 which suggests that the next generation of seniors will experience higher rates of obesity compared to today.
“This increased burden of chronic disease will not only have severe economic consequences but affect older adults’ overall well-being.” reports Randall. “This is a really important time in our nation’s history for us to take a look at this demographic change and the health and behavior outcomes for this population.”
The UHF ranked senior health around the U.S. with Minnesota topping the list while Mississippi ranked #50. For the complete list of state rankings: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/Rankings. To download the 2012 Senior Report http://cdnfiles.americashealthrankings.org/SiteFiles/Reports/Americas_Health_Rankings_Senior_Edition_2013_final.pdf
The statistics point to both communities and individuals taking action now for seniors to experience vibrant health and a destiny of wellness and well-being instead of projections for living longer and sicker.
With changes in our food system coupled with greater knowledge of more doctors regarding the power of nutrition in disease prevention and healing, there would likely be positive changes in those currently grim statistics. Over the past few decades, the food industry has increasingly offered food products of questionable nutritional value and content. When more of the foods consumers eat will be free of artificial flavors, additives, artificial sweeteners, GMOs and other ingredients which are actually at the root of many health problems today, food will both be preventative as well as curative. Additionally, when more doctors fully recognize the power of nutrition for transforming the health of their patients and recommend nutrient dense foods to both prevent and help heal health conditions, then seniors and generations to come can anticipate healthier destinies on the horizon. Offering a truly wholesome food supply, combined with exercise and other recommendations for healthier living, will those golden years be filled with vibrant health.