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Baby Boomers Now Caring For Parents Experiencing Similar Issues

Dec 25, 2007
Never thought you would grow old? Never thought you would be like your parents? Many of us baby boomers, now age 43-61 are beginning to face health care issues our parents face on a daily basis and we are surprised and shocked this is happening to us. We simply can't believe it.

How many of us have middle aged brothers and sisters? When we talk to them discussion always moves to the health topic. So, how are you feeling? We are surprised to find that our siblings, previously healthy, now have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis and other health issues. And we are wondering how this is happening since we talked about the health of our parents and agreed that we would never be like them. And we are now embarrassed to admit we are facing some of the same health issues that affect our parents.

So then the conversation moves to the health of our parents who are age sixty plus, many in their eighties. Sometimes we feel they rely too much on their physicians, trust them too much. They see their physicians once a quarter, take a long list of medications and go for frequent tests. We wonder if all of this attention to medicine makes them older, frequently ill, less strong, and more reliant on physicians and we swear again this will never happen to us. What are the chances?

According to common research the state of our health relies thirty percent on our genes and seventy percent on our own lifestyle. So even though our parents have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis this does not mean this is inevitably our path. However, if we do not change our lifestyle to be different from that of or parents, this will be our path. How difficult is this?

We grew up in a home with our parents, eating the same foods, acquiring the same habits of exercise and activity or not, having some of the same hobbies or not. The level of influence is significant. It is only when we see that this influence has negative results are we able to distinguish between healthy and non-healthy lifestyles. We may see this through personal experience, through education, through others. However we see it, if we do not want to travel the path of our parents relative to health we must make significant changes.

Recommendations that were previously to exercise 2-3 times a week now recommend exercise 5-7 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day. Numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides that were once acceptable are now lower. Eat more fiber, drink less caffeine. Research is making us more savvy consumers. Those of us who are already on the plan of better nutrition, going to the gym and getting regular exercise may be ahead of others. But how do we sustain this as we continue to age and begin to have unexpected health issues.

This is one area where we can learn from some of our elders. I met a woman the other day that will have her 100 birthday in April. She was extremely independent all of her life, helped others through a teaching career and has maintained her mind and body. For this woman it has been her strong attitude about not relying on society or family to care for her. She feels that friends who have moved into assisted living focus more on what they cannot do and when they see friends using walkers they begin to use walkers.

On the other hand I have met sixty year olds who act more like they are one hundred. They have not taken care of their bodies, are overweight, have smoked, have not been active and they feel sorry for themselves. Some of them have been dependent on others to provide for them all of their life.

There is something to be said for independence; something to be said for having to do things for ourselves and not rely on others. Perhaps it is the sense of self confidence or self esteem that carries us into our later years more able to cope with day to day aches and pains. For those of us already with this sense, let's hope we are able to continue this attitude for the rest of our lives. For those of us not quite in this place, let's work to regain our sense of self, our self confidence and self esteem by beginning to do things on our own.

By facing the fear now, we can avoid the fear later of having to stand on our own two feet and navigate through the issues of aging that not only include health care, but housing, finances, legal preparations and end of life care. We, after all, are the baby boomers, the proud and the invincible. And most likely at some point, we will need to accept that we will have some health issues, like our parents, that nag at us on a day to day basis. And we'll have a new theme "just live with it".
About the Author
Pamela D.Wilson, has over twenty years business experience including ten years in the healthcare field. Her specialization includes planning, counseling and advocacy for older adults. Contact her at The Care Navigator
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