November 12, 2009
New Generation Of Elderly Suffer More Disabilities?

At least in the United States people in their 60s have more of several types of disabilities than the previous cohort of people in their 60s.

In a development that could have significant ramifications for the nation's health care system, Baby Boomers may well be entering their 60s suffering far more disabilities than their counterparts did in previous generations, according to a new UCLA study. The findings, researchers say, may be due in part to changing American demographics.

Have more obesity, less exercise, and other changes in diet and lifestyle begun to cut into life expectancies?

In the study, which will be published in the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, researchers from the division of geriatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA found that the cohort of individuals between the ages of 60 and 69 exhibited increases in several types of disabilities over time. By contrast, those between the ages of 70 and 79 and those aged 80 and over saw no significant increases and in some cases exhibited fewer disabilities than their previous cohorts.

While you can hear it widely said that medicine has made great advances those advances haven't been powerful enough to prevent other factors from making people less healthy. Now, some technological trends might well accelerate the rate of advance of medical technologies so much that rejuvenation therapies and other treatments will block and reverse the effects of dietary choices and poor lifestyle choices. But that hasn't happened yet. You really do have to take care of your body. You can't count on medicine to undo the damage caused by diet and lifestyle.

Update: WebMD has a more quantitative description of how much disability is increasing for people their 60s. The rises are pretty dramatic.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 November 12 09:02 PM  Aging Studies

Fat Man said at November 12, 2009 9:54 PM:

The odious Boomers are not sicker than their parents were, but they are a lot whinier.

Sgt. Joe Friday said at November 13, 2009 1:55 PM:

I believe that the cohort now in their 60s would be the first generation to have consumed recreational drugs on a large scale. That might be one of the "poor lifestyle choices" Randall mentions.

Bob Badour said at November 13, 2009 2:32 PM:

Is it possible we have more sick 60 people in their 60's because fewer sick ones died ten years ago in their 50's? Just maybe?

Matias said at November 13, 2009 3:34 PM:

I would agree with Bob. I think it could be because previously people who were not very fit would tend to die younger, while now with modern technology they survive to later life. Any ideas if the study took this into account?

Engineer-Poet said at November 14, 2009 7:14 PM:

RP, you need to close a bold tag in the post.

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