Feature

Editor's letter: The poor health of baby boomers

It turns out that while we baby boomers will likely live longer than our parents, we are apt to eke out our final years in more advanced states of decrepitude.

Every workday, I engage in the perilous practice of sitting for hours on end staring at a computer screen—a habit, scientists say, that is as bad for you as smoking. I try to counteract this central facet of my daily life with bouts of vigorous physical activity, but I can’t be sure I’ve righted the balance. In that, I am hardly alone. It turns out that while we baby boomers will likely live longer than our parents, we are apt to eke out our final years in more advanced states of decrepitude (see Health & Science). We have a higher propensity than any previous generation for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and soaring cholesterol. Too many of us are destined to live into our dotage only thanks to statins, insulin, and quadruple bypass surgeries.    

The latest confirmation of my generation’s self-indulgence won’t improve our shaky standing with those who’ve come after us. Younger Americans already clamor for the jobs that boomers are hanging on to for dear life. Wait until they’re forced to take on the monstrous cost of the Social Security benefits and medical care of the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. No one even wants to think about that burden, as President Obama and Sen. Marco Rubio both demonstrated this week. In his State of the Union address, Obama took note of the rising cost of old-age health care and said we all “must embrace the need for modest reforms,” while in the Republican response, Rubio swore he “would never support any changes to Medicare that would hurt seniors like my mother.” Why do I get the feeling they’re both whistling past the graveyard—my graveyard?

James Graff

Recommended

Uganda's 'shameful' new anti-gay law
Protesters against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill
Global lens

Uganda's 'shameful' new anti-gay law

War under the sea
A nuclear-powered U.S. Navy submarine
Briefing

War under the sea

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese Troubles

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'

Putin blames Kyiv for 'terrorist' drone attack as war comes home to Moscow
Moscow apartment damaged by drone
Hitting close to home

Putin blames Kyiv for 'terrorist' drone attack as war comes home to Moscow

Most Popular

Air New Zealand to weigh international passengers as part of safety survey
An Air New Zealand plane takes off from Sydney, Australia.
Step on the Scale

Air New Zealand to weigh international passengers as part of safety survey

Thousands flock to Missouri to see body of nun who died in 2019
People wait in line to see the exhumed body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster.
drawing a crowd

Thousands flock to Missouri to see body of nun who died in 2019

Why are so many boomers homeless?
Homeless person and tents
Today's big question

Why are so many boomers homeless?