“The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible — and achieve it, generation after generation.”
—PEARL S. BUCK (1892-1973), AMERICAN AUTHOR, NOBEL PRIZE WINNER
Baby Boomers seemed to possess the alchemy to capture time in a bottle and never grow old. In general, Boomers are a well-educated, socially conscious, physically active group, more aware of the benefits of regular exercise, good nutrition, and practices of healthy living. Despite attempts to lead exemplary lifestyles, the years have taken their toll on aging Boomers. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when an unstable economy, increasing personal debt, soaring medical costs, fading ranks of health care professionals, and an anemic health care system forecast a less-than-ideal future of health care for the graying rock ‘n’ roll demographic.
Among the most common health complaints of Boomers are chronic aches and pains, high blood pressure, cancer, rising cholesterol levels, and heart disease. In fact, recent figures from the Commonwealth Fund indicate that more than 60% of working people in the 44- to 62-year-old Boomer age range have been diagnosed with the onslaught of at least one chronic health issue.
Fortunately, the physical rehabilitation community can play an important (not to mention potentially profitable) role in guiding these 70 million individuals into their golden years and beyond. They can accomplish this by expanding recruitment programs to increase the available ranks of occupational and physical therapists who will be needed to handle the specific needs of this generation. Next, physical rehabilitation professionals can help these people by developing fitness and wellness programs to provide them with the physical and mental tools they will most likely need to negotiate their future health care issues.
Remember, Boomers are the generation that witnessed (and evoked) such a miraculous time in history—when information, communication, and scientific advancements have created the potential for everyone on this planet to live free from hunger, poverty, and many physical ailments. They must remain active and proactive in their health care as they age. It would be a shame if they did not live long enough to bring at least some of these ambitious dreams to fruition.
A note to fellow Boomers: Stay active and vigilant. By keeping the body fit and the mind sound, old age might not be such a bad gig.
—Rogena Schuyler Silverman