Updated: Aug 19, 2020
Originally posted June 3, 2018, updated August 19, 2020
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 is skyrocketing.
America’s Health Rankings has tracked the health of the nation for the past 30 years, offering insights into American health as well as state-by-state. In the 2020 rankings to date, the UHF ranked senior health around the U.S. with Colorado topping the list, replacing Vermont in the top spot from last year, while Mississippi continues to be ranked #50. For the complete list of state rankings: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/Rankings
The 2019 report suggests Americans are struggling to change unhealthy behaviors such as obesity which has increased 166% over the past 30 years, from 11.6% to 30.9%. Diabetes now impacts about 30 million adults, has reached the highest prevalence in America’s Health Rankings history increasing 148% from 4.4% to 10.9% of adults since 1996.
“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.” Although risk factors for chronic conditions increase with age, studies consistently demonstrate that prevention is possible in observing positive lifestyle choices regarding diet, exercise, and factors that reduce inflammation.
Social isolation, defined as the absence of meaningful social relationships is a growing public health challenge especially for seniors with Covid restrictions compounding the issue. "According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, one in five Americans say they feel lonely or socially isolated. Social isolation is profoundly detrimental to the health of older adults and can be equal to the health risks of smoking 15 cigarettes a day, according to a 2015 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science."
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.