University Park, Pennsylvania. – Baby boomers are more likely to live with many chronic health conditions than previous generations, according to new research from Penn State and Texas State University.
The study authors caution that the increasing rate of multiple chronic health conditions (multiple diseases) among older Americans presents a real health threat to the nation. If this trend continues, it is almost certain that this trend will place increased pressure on the well-being of older adults, medical infrastructures, and federal insurance systems. On a related note, the number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to increase by a staggering 50 percent by 2050.
The researchers note that this is not the first study to report a greater decline in health among older adults today. Moving forward, they would like to see their findings help guide new policies that address this problem at the national level.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to see a decline in life expectancy among middle-aged Americans, a reversal of a trend that has persisted for more than a century,” says Stephen Haas, associate professor of sociology and demography at Penn State. a permit. “Furthermore, the past 30 years have seen population health in the United States fall behind that of other high-income countries, and our findings suggest that the United States is likely to continue to fall further behind that of our peers.”
The study authors analyzed data for adults aged 51 and over that they had originally collected Study health and retirement, a nationally representative survey of older Americans. The multiplicity of diseases was measured by searching for nine chronic diseases: heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, lung disease, cancer (excluding melanoma), severe depressive symptoms, and cognitive impairment. The differences in specific conditions that lead to generational differences in multiple diseases were also investigated.
Newborns had worse health than Americans in the Great Depression
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that modern generations of older adults are more likely to live with more chronic conditions, and to develop these problems earlier in life.
“For example, when comparing those born between 1948 and 65 — referred to as baby boomers — with those born during the last years of the Great Depression (between 1931 and 1941) at similar ages,” Haas adds, “They have Newborn babies showed a higher number of chronic health conditions. Baby boomers also reported two or more chronic health conditions at younger ages.”
Notably, sociodemographic factors also appear to influence the risk of multiple diseases among all generations. Examples include race and ethnicity, whether the person was born in the United States, childhood socioeconomic situations, and childhood health.
The most common conditions in adults with multiple diseases (across all generations) were arthritis and hypertension. In addition, some evidence collected suggests that both elevated depression symptoms and diabetes mellitus contributed to the observed differences in multigenerational risk of developing diseases.
The study authors say there are several possible explanations for these findings.
Nicholas Bishop, assistant professor at Texas State University, concludes that “Later-born generations have had access to more advanced modern medicine for a longer period of their lives, and thus we may expect them to enjoy better health than those born in previous generations.” “Although this is true in part, advanced medical treatments may enable individuals to live with many chronic conditions that would have previously been fatal, increasing the likelihood that a person will develop a multi-disease.”
a. Bishops adds that today’s older adults have “more” exposure to health risk factors such as obesity. Also, health problems are more likely to be diagnosed in the elderly nowadays thanks to improvements in medical technology.
The study was published in Gerontology Journals.