Mary E. Parsons

Baby Boomer Health Risks: How to Help the Aging Generation

According to the Americal Hospital Association (AHA), the number of individuals older than 65 will almost triple between 1980 and 2030. Baby boomers are classified as people born between 1946 and 1962. Along with their age comes a number of health risks. By 2030, it’s likely that 37 million baby boomers — three out of five — will be managing at least one chronic health condition.

Working with your employees to educate them about risks can begin with an existing wellness program or can be achieved with periodic health awareness events. Some of the health risks for aging baby boomers may include:

Diabetes

By 2030, 1 of 4 baby boomers will live with diabetes, the AHA explained. Poor diet and a lack of exercise can increase the odds of developing diabetes. Encouraging and supporting your employees to use healthy eating habits can include a shift in the type of foods provided in your office. Additionally, sponsoring wellness clinics where employees can have simple testing done, including their blood sugar count, can improve the situation.

Arthritis

By 2030 — when all baby boomers will have turned 65 — it’s expected 67 million people will suffer from arthritis, according to the Huffington Post. Risk factors for arthritis include age, obesity and joint overuse. While there may be no way to totally remove the risk, exercise and diet can help reduce or delay the onset of symptoms. Encourage your employees to move by allowing time for gentle exercise and encouraging participation in exercise classes.

Obesity

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 27 percent of older men and 32 percent of older women are considered to be in the normal weight range. The obvious risk of obesity is a shortened life span, but other problems include a lack of mobility, an increased need for surgical intervention for joint replacement and an increased likelihood of needing to be in a care facility. Combating this risk can include exercise and diet that can be supported by in-office programs.

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Cognitive Impairments

Dementia is a disease that affects how a person processes information. Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that causes slow, irreversible deterioration of brain cells. Aging is the largest risk factor for dementia and related cognitive impairments. So, as baby boomers age, there will be an increased need for care-taking.

Many of your employees may have a family member living with dementia or know someone who’s a caretaker. Research hasn’t come to definitive conclusions concerning the cause of dementia and that means baby boomers have a significant risk of developing some form of the disease.

Dementia sufferers commonly require custodial care, and long-term care insurance can help combat the financial impact to the family. A meeting with your insurance provider will help determine if it’s feasible to add the coverage as an option in your benefits package.

Mary Parsons is retired from a 30-year career in the insurance industry. She worked in the claims department of a major insurance carrier as a claims adjuster, manager and a member of a catastrophe team. Since her retirement, she has developed a career as a freelance writer. As an insurance professional, she has been a contributor to several insurance websites.