Baby boomers are being nagged by injuries–more than the generation before them. In fact, baby boomers have more disabilities than people over age 65. What the heck is going on here?According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, conducted annually from 1997 to 2007 and including up to 15,000 individuals each year, more than 40 percent of people aged 50 to 64 reported having problems with at least one of nine physical functions, and many reported difficulty with more than one. Although health problems as a whole did not increase for this age group, physical disabilities, like trouble climbing ten stairs, did. The number of baby boomers using special equipment to get around, such as a cane or wheelchair, also increased. Hmmm…. Here’s the breakdown of the number of adults per 10,000, ages 50 to 64, who reported difficulty with various actions in the 2005-2007period and from 1997-1999 (in parentheses).
- Stooping, bending, kneeling: 3,129 (2,875)
- Standing two hours: 2,491 (2,321)
- Pushing or pulling large object: 2,010 (2,024)
- Walking a quarter-mile: 2,146 (1,954)
- Climbing 10 steps: 1,749 (1,537)
- Sitting two hours: 1,491 (1,445)
- Lifting and carrying 10 pounds: 1,410 (1,387)
- Reaching over head: 1,186 (1,149)
- Grasping small objects: 1,128 (1,109
Experts are unclear about the cause of this trend. What’s enjoyable to read, however, are the comments posted to the yahoo news page of this report (link no longer available). Some people blame obesity, although the study makes very clear that obesity is not an important cause of the disabilities. Some think it might be processed foods, some exposure to DDT and other chemicals, while others yet to excessive television viewing by boomers. I love to see people thinking and trying to find a cause, but I have to say none of these guesses make complete sense. Here is my shot at it: Baby boomers are the first generation to really believe they can have it all–career, family, and endless health. They were the generation that pushed themselves physically, if not from day one, then by jumping on the fitness bandwagon when jogging, Tae Bo and Richard Simmons came onto the scene. Many boomers followed the trend rather than taking time to learn the proper form. This leads to injuries. Boomers also saw the greatest advances in medical technology. Hurt yourself Lambada-ing? No problem–medical science will fix it. Additionally, boomers as a whole tended to trust their medical doctors unquestionably. If Dr. Welby says to take Vioxx, then by golly I’ll do it. Um hm. So my take is that boomers pushed themselves harder physically than any generation before them (graceful agers); to that I applaud. But they relied on medical advice for their musculoskeletal issues, and as I pointed out last post, big mistake. Medical doctors are coming out of school poorly prepared to deal with musculoskeletal problems–this by their own analysis. As such, there have been oodles of surgeries–routine ones, routine ones, that’s what we’ve been told–and here we are witnessing the end result: increased disabilities. Sure one could argue that perhaps medical science saved many a crippling by this daring, if not reckless, generation. But I don’t think so. I am certain that you can have excellent function to live the life you love well into old age–I see it in my chiropractic practice every single day. So take heed Gen Xers and Millennials, take care of your bodies today–exercise, eat well, get regular chiropractic care, rest up, and minimize your intake of toxins. Learn proper form of the exercise or sport you wish to do–and learn to rehabilitate and recuperate yourself from injuries. Your physical body isn’t indestructible; it needs to be cared for like a fine-tuned machine–better than a fined-tuned machine. Educate yourself on injury prevention and proper care when you get hurt. And don’t take any one practitioner’s word as gospel. Get a few opinions and do what feels right. Lastly, don’t just choose a risky surgery because it’s sold to you as routine, even if seems like an easy way out. Conservative care can restore and preserve proper function for years to come if done right and to completion. Thank you baby boomers for paving the way through yet another uncharted territory. Younger generations listen up…and learn.