Talking to my senior neighbor the other day, I realized that we have a big problem looming in every community in America.
The nation is facing an impending health crisis and only you can prevent it. No doctors, caregivers, or other health specialists can stop it, nor will they have the ability to deal with it. You hold the power.
What am I talking about? Obesity.
My neighbor is an older man who’s in his retirement years. And, well, he’s overweight. He was sitting on his porch the other day when I was coming home, so I stopped to chat with him. Being overweight wasn’t something he’s blissfully ignorant about; in fact, this time he was telling me it’s causing him all kinds of health problems, mobility problems, and even financial problems. He has two children, but they live too far away to help him with the everyday chores he has trouble with because of his weight-induced knee and back problems. He can’t get around easily either and is starting to have breathing problems. Just going to the store is a big deal. Now my neighbor is starting to consider going into a senior care facility, but he’s worried about the money for that. It’s a really tough situation for him.
Of course, it got me to thinking, so I did some research.
The most recent figures I’ve come across report that, in the U.S., nearly three-quarters of older men and two-thirds of women over 64 years old are overweight or obese. What compounds this problem is that the population is aging. Considering all the illnesses and conditions caused not only by obesity, but also aging under an unhealthy lifestyle, baby boomers are going to put an unprecedented strain on the healthcare system. Booking an appointment with your doctor or visiting the emergency ward may become nearly impossible.
As I mentioned, when this many people are overweight or obese—and there are apparently many more to come—it lays the foundation for an increase in the frequency of other chronic conditions. For example, weight is closely associated with diseases like type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart problems, and mobility concerns.
I came across some more shocking numbers the other day, too, in a new report released by the National Institute on Aging. In the U.S., there are currently 40 million Americans over the age 65, and that number is expected to double by 2050. By 2030, one in five Americans will be 65 years or older.
This places a huge burden on the healthcare system because it’s unlikely there will be a population big enough to support them. There won’t be enough healthcare workers, beds, or facilities, and what is available will be very costly. It’s already about $80,000 per year to live in an assisted-living facility. I can only imagine how much it will cost when demand starts to skyrocket.
Overall, this information should help you realize that independence is king. Being able to live independently for as long as possible is the best way to shield yourself from this impending health crisis.
When you don’t need assistance to survive, your quality of life jumps siginificantly. You can get around, enjoy yourself, and not spend big money on health care or be held back by chronic disease. But the only way to increase your chances of living independently for longer is to take action and live a healthy lifestyle now!
To adopt a healthy lifestyle, you have to first recognize that you might be able to reverse your current chronic conditions and that you do have the power to change, regardless of your current age or weight.
Start increasing your activity level to lose weight and maintain muscle mass through strength-training exercises to protect yourself from frailty and injury. Eat a diet with sufficient amounts of lean protein, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. If you find it draining to cook three square meals every day, start cooking in larger quantities and save your leftovers for tomorrow’s dinner. (Bonus: this will help you save money, too, since buying in larger quantities at the grocery store generally allows you to save on per-unit costs.) For more information on nutrition, visit the Doctors Health Press web site.
Don’t become a statistic. Take control of your future—you’re the only one who can.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Cire, B., “NIH-Commissioned Census Bureau Report Highlights Effect of Aging Boomers,” National Institute on Aging web site, June 30, 2014; http://www.nia.nih.gov/newsroom/2014/06/nih-commissioned-census-bureau-report-highlights-effect-aging-boomers.
West, L., et al., “65+ In The United States: 2010,” United States Census Bureau web site, June 2014; http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p23-212.pdf, last accessed July 8, 2014.