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Boomers Less Healthy Than Their Parents

How will this affect long term health care costs? As the first wave of baby boomers edges toward retirement, a growing body of evidence suggests that they may be the first generation to enter their golden years in worse health than their parents. While not definitive, the data sketch a startlingly different picture than the popular image of healthobsessed workout fanatics who know their antioxidants from their trans fats and look 10 years younger than their age. Boomers are healthier in some important ways – they are much less likely to smoke, for example – but large surveys are consistently finding that they tend to describe themselves as less hale and hearty than their forebears did at the same age. They are more likely to report difficulty climbing stairs, getting up from a chair and doing other routine activities, as well as more chronic problems such as high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. “We’re seeing some very powerful evidence all pointing to parallel findings,” said Mark D. Hayward, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin. “The trend seems to be that people are not as healthy as they approach retirement as they were in older generations. It’s very disturbing.’

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