We can't help ourselves. We love to give each generation some spiffy name. The Greatest Generation spanned the 30s and 40s. The Boomer Generation the 40s and 50s. The first has been hailed as an inspired one while the second an indulgent one. The designations may be debatable, but lately not the the data. We are being told -- counter-intutively -- that Boomers are nowhere near as healthy as all their gyms, vitamins and specialists would seem to promise.
What's going on here....?
The West Virginia University School of Medicine reports, "While Boomers are living longer, they are living with a greater burden of chronic diseases." Boomers have access to more medical information, prescriptions, and expertise than any other in history. And yet, "They are far more likely to be obese, have diabetes, high blood pressure and rising cholesterol than their parents were 20 years ago. One reason is they're far more sedentary."
As a parent of three Boomers I'm puzzled. They all look smarter than me. They certainly look more robust than me. One look in my morning mirror confirms this loud, clear and ugly. But while the data shows 17% of my generation doesn't exercise enough, it shows 50% of their generation is guilty too.
So does that mean I've been carrying all this health-guilt for nothing? No, my morning mirror and scale tell me I have little to be proud of. On the other hand, nearly twice as many Boomers need a cane or a walker to get around than the previous generation. Overall, only 13% of Boomers rate their health as "excellent," compared with 32% of their fore-bearers.
The next time some dude behind me in the supermarket line snickers at how slow I am counting out my coupons and sliding my credit card, should I snarl something like, "Wait a few years, hotshot, and you'll understand why!" Or should I jam a copy of the West Virginia study into his hands? Or should I simply smile silently, warmed by the realization that some day the little jerk will start functioning exactly like me!
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