Entries in baby boomers (14)


Study: Baby Boomers Living Longer, Not Healthier

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Baby boomers are living longer lives than their predecessors, but not necessarily healthier lives, according to a new study that warns of rising health care costs.

Men and women born between 1946 and 1964 were more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes than the generation before them, according to the study, published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.  They were also more likely to be obese and less likely to exercise.

“Despite their longer life expectancy over previous generations, U.S. baby boomers have higher rates of chronic disease, more disability, and lower self-rated health than members of the previous generation at the same age,” the study authors wrote.  “On a positive note, baby boomers are less likely to smoke cigarettes and experience lower rates of emphysema and [heart attacks] than the previous generation.”

The study supports a gloomy forecast for healthcare costs as the oldest baby boomers approach their 70s.  Americans spend roughly $147 billion on obesity and $177 billion on diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We’ve got a mixed report card here,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.  “We’ve got some As and Bs, but certainly some Cs and Ds with pretty serious implications for medical care in this country.”

But Schaffner say it’s never too late to turn things around.

“Exercise and diet continue to be very important as we get older, and it’s never too late to quit smoking,” said Schaffner, adding that exercise doesn’t mean “training for the Olympics.” 

“There are lots of easy things people can do: walking, swimming, gardening," he added, "physical activity of any kind.”

ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, said the study should serve as inspiration for baby boomers with a lot more living to do.

“You can start to make a difference in your risk for all of these by making small changes in what you eat and how you move,” he said.  ”It may not be easy, but it’s very simple: Start small, achieve success, and build from there.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Hepatitis C Screenings for Baby Boomers Receive Lukewarm Support

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued new recommendations for Baby Boomers: whether at risk or not, everyone should get tested for Hepatitis C.

Now, an influential advisory board is offering only half-hearted support for the protocol.  In a draft opinion issued Tuesday, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises doctors to “consider offering screening” for Hepatitis C for adults born between 1945 and 1965.

The recommendation is labeled “Grade C,” which the USPSTF’s website deems “only a small benefit” for people without prior symptoms.  It did extend a “Grade B” recommendation for screenings high-risk adults, such as those with a history with intravenous drugs.

The USPSTF is made up of outside experts appointed by the government, and is widely considered more influential than the CDC.  As a result of the low-grade recommendation, insurance carriers might not cover the one-time hepatitis screenings.

The National Virus Hepatitis Roundtable immediately called for a revision to the USPSTF’s draft opinion.  “Doctors look to USPSTF to guide clinical practice and A and B recommendations get covered without cost-sharing to patients,” said Executive Director Martha Saly.  “This is not going to be the case with a C recommendation and will result in many people not being tested.”

According to the CDC, Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965 are five times more likely to be infected with Hepatitis C than the average adult.  Infected adults can live with the virus for decades before showing symptoms, leaving many people unaware they are living with the liver disease.

Copywright 2012 ABC News Radio


Back in the Habit: Baby Boomers Admit Drug Abuse

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Those who came of age in the marijuana-happy, acid-dropping, cocaine-snorting 1960s and '70s are finding their way back to drugs.

In 2010, nearly 2.4 million people ages 50 to 59 said they had abused prescription or illegal drugs within the past month -- more than double that of 2002, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

Emergency rooms nationwide are seeing more patients age 55 and older for reactions to cocaine, heroin and especially marijuana.

Visits to the emergency room for marijuana abuse, for example, jumped 200 percent from 2004 to 2009 in this age group, according to Gayathri Dowling, PhD, the acting chief of the science policy branch at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

"We knew a lot of baby boomers had used drugs in their youth," said Dowling.  "That is a risk factor.  The younger you use, the more likely you are to have problems later."

Dowling says boomers grew up in a culture where drug use "became less stigmatized."

Bee, 52, who lives in the Boston area, agrees.  She admits to heavy marijuana use in her late teens and early 20s, but then she kicked the habit.  Bee, who asked ABC News not to use her last name, started again in her 40s, while dating a man who liked to light up.

"If you've done it before," said Bee, "it's easier to start again."

She's now trying to quit, and has been mostly clean for six months.

In Florida, the Hanley Center, an addiction recovery facility in West Palm Beach, opened a boomer unit three years ago.  Juan Harris, the clinical director of boomer treatment, says they are packed.  Right now it's a 24-bed facility, with plans to expand to 40 beds.

"Alcohol addiction is [still] the primary substance for people age 50, but it's going down," said Harris.  "There are more and more people over 50 abusing more illicit stuff, such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana and prescription drugs."

Harris places the blame partly on the pressures of this stage of life.

"Divorce, loss of a job, loss of health, a lot of grief and loss issues," he said.  The good news, according to Harris, is that these older drug users are motivated to break their habit, and have a good success rate.

Some of the increase in drug use in this age group is due to their sheer numbers; an estimated 75 million people were born in the Baby Boom years between 1946 and 1964.  Still, some experts say population numbers alone don't explain all of the increase.

"We are concerned that it is going to get worse," said NIDA's Dowling, who adds that older adults metabolize drugs differently, and "even moderate levels of use can have more severe consequences."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CDC Recommends Baby Boomers Get Tested for Hepatitis C

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that baby boomers--Americans born between 1945 and 1965-- get tested for Hepatitis C, Health Day reports.

The agency said that most cases of the disease occur in this age group, and most were infected with it during their teens and 20s, and don't know they are infected. Baby boomers reportedly have a rate of infection five times higher than others because the cause of hepatitis C was only discovered in 1989, years after they were young adults.

In 2007, 15,000 people died from the virus, according to CDC data.

If hepatitis C is not detected and treated, it could potentially cause cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

The number of new hepatitis C infections has declined from several hundred thousand per year to around 17,000, which is attributed to public education and improved infection control in hospitals.

The CDC said it's thought that 800,000 people living with hepatitis C could be identified and over 120,000 hepatitis C-related deaths prevented by targeting baby boomers, according to Health Day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Men More Than Women Likely to Experience Memory Loss

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, Minn.) -- Men more than women are at higher risk of developing mild memory loss, according to a new study published in the journal Neurology. The memory dysfunction, called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, is the stage between normal brain aging and dementia.

The study has stirred interest, as many other studies have found that women are at higher risk of developing dementia than are men.

"Since MCI is a risk factor for dementia, and large numbers of the baby boomer generation are reaching this age, we must prevent or reduce the risk of MCI, or the increased development of dementia will have a tremendous impact on the cost of health care in elderly persons," said Dr. Rosebud Roberts, lead author of the study and a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

MCI is common in older adults, and often adults realize that their memory or mental function has declined. While research has found that people with MCI are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, MCI will not always develop into the more severe condition of dementia or Alzheimer's.

In the study, researchers analyzed 1,450 adults between the ages of 70 and 89 who were free of dementia when they joined the trial. Over a three-year period, study participants went through a battery of memory tests every 15 months. By the end of the trial, 296 participants had developed MCI.

Reserachers found that 7.2 percent of men developed MCI, compared with 5.7 percent of women. People who were not married and those who had less education were also more likely to experience MCI.

While the reasons for the findings are not clear, Robers said risk factors for MCI may occur earlier and at a higher rate in men than in women.

"Women may develop risk factors for MCI at a later age, but the effects may be more severe when they occur," said Roberts. "Women may...progress faster to dementia, or they may progress to dementia without being diagnosed at the MCI stage."

"We've always suspected that there are many people who do not have a diagnosis in the community who are living at this level of cognitive impairment," said Bill Thies, chief medical and scientific officer at the Alzheimer's Association. "The study suggests that we should have increasing concern about people living in the community with cognitive problems. We're only seeing the tip of the iceberg."

MCI is a syndrome, not a particular disease, Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor in the department of neurology and neurobiology and behavior, said in an email.

"It is often due to early Alzheimer's disease but can also be due to strokes, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disease, drugs including prescription ones, alcohol or just not feeling well that day," said Kawas. "It will be interesting to see if men with MCI develop Alzheimer's disease at the same or different rate as women."

In the future, "increased efforts should be made to understand differences in risk factors for MCI in men and women [and] efforts to prevent or control these risk factors should be sex specific," said Roberts.

Thies said the medical community is not prepared to deal with the influx of Alzheimer's disease that is expected to occur in the next 40 years. While cancer, heart disease and AIDS each receive about $5 billion to $6 billion in research investments per year, Alzheimer's receives a few hundred million, Thies said. He predicted the cognitive condition would not see breakthrough treatments in the same way the other major diseases had without adequate investment in new research and treatment.

"The medical care system is not organized to deal with cognitive dysfunction in the community, and it's only going to get worse," said Thies. "The post-World War II baby boomers will see a large influx of Alzheimer's and dementia, and until we start to invest at a significant level, we're not going to see the necessary changes and better therapies that are needed to combat this disease."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Programs Offering Workers More Care on the Job

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MENOMENEE FALLS, Wis.) -- Fifty-year-old Debbie Germer has been a machinist at the Harley-Davidson’s Motorcycle Plant in Menomenee Falls, Wis., for the past 12 years.

It is hard, physically demanding work, especially for older workers.

“Some of that stuff -- like the spine rolls -- weigh 60 pounds. And you have to lift that up into a machine,” Germer said.

Last September, Germer partially tore a tendon in her shoulder. Now, twice a week, before her work shift, she gets physical therapy at her work site. And twice a week she works out at a gym, also located at her work site.

The 1,000 assembly plant workers can drop by before or after their shifts, or even on their breaks, to work out at work.

It’s part of an effort by Harley-Davidson to get their employees to shape up so it’s less likely they’ll break down.

Workers over 50 are more vulnerable than younger workers to injuries that keep them out of work -- sometimes permanently.

“I guess the fitter you are, not just the longer you can work, the less chance of hurting yourself,” Germer said.

If a worker does suffer a strain or sprain, there’s medical aid from a doctor, nurse or physical therapist on site.

When asked if workers last longer (to put it bluntly) when they’re physically fit, John Lowry, general manager of Powertrain Operations at Harley-Davidson, responded, “If you get a debilitating injury that could be the end of your career. So if we can stay out in front of those injuries or make sure they don’t happen, then we can prolong a person’s employment indefinitely.”

Duke Electric Utility in North Carolina takes a similar approach.

All 2,000 of its line technicians begin each work day stretching.  The aim is to prevent soft-tissue injuries like strained and pulled muscles.

At Duke Electric, more than half of their line technicians are over 50 -- and replacing an experienced worker is difficult. It takes up to eight years to fully train someone for the job.

“These are very valuable folks and we want to keep them working as long as we can -- for our benefit and for theirs,” said Jim Stanley, senior VP of Duke Electric.

Both Duke Electric and Harley-Davidson believe their fitness programs are paying dividends: both report declining numbers of injuries, fewer lost work days and older, more experienced, workers working longer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cutting Edge: Joint Injections Heal Baby Boomer Arthritis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When doctors told Aviva Gianetti of River Vale, N.J., that she would need surgery in both arms to heal her tennis elbow, she wanted to find a way out of it.

Gianetti, in her late 50s, goes to the gym several times a week and won't pass up the chance to play golf. But the soreness and pain running down both of her arms has left her unable to partake in her favorite game.

Still, Gianetti was adamant against having surgery, so her specialist took an experimental approach: He gave her a shot of her own platelet rich plasma in both elbows. For Gianetti, two rounds of injections were all it took to get her back on the golf course at full swing.

The procedure, formally called platelet rich plasma, or PRP, injections, uses natural nutrients from the patient's own blood to heal the joints. Blood cells are separated from the liquid part of the blood, and then the clotted blood cells -- or plasma -- are inserted into the damaged joint. Previous animal and human studies suggest that plasma can help repair damaged cartilage and joints.

Athletes like basketball star Kobe Bryant and Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte have undergone PRP injections. But this method to alleviate joint pain has grown in demand among baby boomers.

The baby boomer generation has become the most active of any other in that age group, which has led the boomers to become the fastest-growing group to undergo joint replacements. Knee replacement surgeries have doubled over the past decade, and more than tripled in women between the ages of 45 and 64.

But PRP injections have offered many boomers a chance to extend their active years without pain.

But many experts say PRP injections are no proven substitute for surgery. There is only limited scientific data to suggest that it really works to treat as many joint problems as it is currently used for. Some claims suggest plasma injections can stop arthritis progression, and even create new cartilage.

"This is certainly, potentially one treatment option that may be utilized, but it's not the magic bullet," said Dr. Laith Jazrawi, chief of sports medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. "To offer these things to patients and potentially tell them that we may have the treatment that may prevent you from getting a knee replacement is really silly."

PRP injections are more often given to treat chronic arthritis. Jazrawi, who offers PRP injections in his office, says PRP should not be the first-line treatment recommended for baby boomer patients. Instead, he advises them to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle and diet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Surge in Total Knee Replacements for Boomer Women

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- Gone are the days of 50-something women who define their new decade by staying home and joining a book club or two. These women are more likely to be found moving and shaking at the gym, on the dance floor or trekking on some adventure abroad.

The baby boomer generation has truly coined 50 as the new 30. The generation is the most active of any other in the same age group has ever been. But unfortunately, their joints haven't caught on to their mantra.

Active lifestyles mean achy joints, which have led baby boomers to become the fastest-growing group to undergo total knee replacements.

Knee replacement surgeries have doubled over the past decade, and more than tripled in the women between the ages of 45 and 64.

Women seem to be more affected than men. In 2009, nearly 63 percent of women underwent total knee replacement surgery, most of whom were between ages of 40 and 80, according to Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Nearly 37 percent of men, mostly within the same age group, underwent total knee replacement surgery in 2009.

Dr. Nick DiNubile, clinical assistant professor in the department of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, said just a decade ago most of his patients needing knee replacements were age 70 or older. But now, a majority of his patients are much younger.

Medications are the first line treatment for knee joints that are seriously damaged by arthritis or injury. But when it becomes difficult to walk or climb stairs, and the pain is unbearable both during activity and at rest, some specialists may suggest surgery.

Many women overuse their joints and wait longer to go to the doctor, which could be leading to the spike in surgeries, DiNubile said.

During the procedure, surgeons remove the damaged cartilage surrounding the knee along with parts of the underlying bone. They are replaced by metal that's fit into the bone and a spacer is fit in between to the bone's surface to create a gliding surface. But surgery is no quick fix.

More than 90 percent of people who undergo total knee replacement experience a dramatic reduction in pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

But it's difficult to return to the strenuous physical activities. Like other artificial implants, the plastic spacers can wear with daily use, and overuse, and putting a lot of weight on the knee can speed up that process.

Most surgeons advise against high-impact activities, such as running, jogging, jumping, and high-impact sports for the rest of one's life after surgery.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Baby Boomers Turn to Online Dating for Another Chance at Love

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEWBURYPORT, Mass.) -- For Adrienne Montezinos, from Newburyport, Mass., life at 50 includes several new rituals: extra makeup, elegant jewelry and tea -- to calm her nerves before a date arranged on

According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the recently divorced Montezinos is the poster child for the latest boomer trend: online dating.

Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says divorce has been dropping overall for decades in the U.S., it’s doubled among the 50-and-older crowd.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz, the AARP love and relationship ambassador and chief relationship expert for, attributed the trend, in part, to independent women opting not to stay in mediocre marriages.

Rather than be alone, however, many women like Montezinos are demanding a second chance in matters of the heart. Nearly 5 million men and women older than 55 aren’t hitting the bars and bingo tournaments in search of love.

They are flooding online dating sites.

In the last three years, the number of boomers signing up on these sites has jumped 39 percent, according to Experian Hitwise, an Internet tracking firm.

The AARP said Schwartz’s love and relationships forum, the Naked Truth, received the most clicks on the AARP website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Study: Baby Boomers 'In Denial' About Their Health in Retirement

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Most baby boomers are planning to be pretty active and healthy when they retire -- that's if they aren't already.
But a new poll shows that baby boomers need to take off the rose-colored glasses when it comes to their health.
Some experts say baby boomers are not just unprepared, they're delusional about their health in retirement.
Only 13 percent of those over 50, but not yet retired, expect their health to go downhill after retirement.
Three times as many retirees said their health has already worsened.
The poll -- conducted by NPR, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health -- showed that more than 70 percent of boomers have stepped up their physical activity and exercise. More than 65 percent have changed their diets and more than 80 percent are watching what they eat.

Still, only a handful (one percent) of boomers expect their exercise to decrease when they retire, while more than one-third of retirees say they already exercise less.
Furthermore, more baby boomers than ever are aware that expenses for long-term care, such as nursing homes, assisted living or home care could lead to financial hardship. And the majority expressed concern concern about whether they would be able to afford it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio