As some of you may know, I had surgery on both feet this past Friday. While I am blessed to have a caring and supportive husband and the prayers and healing energy of many friends, I am also getting a ‘bit’ of an idea of what it must be like to suffer from mobility issues. When I do walk, I am like Frankenstein, on my heels and waving my arms about frantically. It’s quite a sight! It can also be dangerous, as I discovered last night as I teetered at the top of our stairs and nearly fell backwards to the hard ceramic floor below!
While not in excruciating pain, thankfully, I am being forced to rest more and to pace myself, something this workaholic boomer does not like to do! So far walking up and downstairs — which I do very slowly, carefully and not often — has been the biggest challenge. That and showering! Between Richard’s failing hearing and my compromised mobility, we make quite a pair! Is this a sign of things to come?
The advances in healthcare and bio-medicine have had major implications for the longevity revolution. But as we Boomers live longer, we face new health challenges. Recent studies have shown, for example, that while baby boomers are living longer than earlier generations, by roughly 20 years, we are not necessarily healthier. We are less likely to smoke, have emphysema, or a heart attack, but we are more likely to be obese, have diabetes, or high blood pressure than the previous generation at similar ages. We are also more likely to have mobility issues.
Vicki Freedman, a University of Michigan demographer, has noted that disability levels have continued to decline among the oldest people (ages 85 and older) but held steady among Boomers. She said that she and other researchers “had expected baby boomers to be doing better, given advances in public health and education during the lives of the baby boomers.”
These findings will have a major impact on the rising costs to healthcare as well as implications for family members who may need to provide more care for ailing loved ones. May they encourage us to find new and creative ways to care for ourselves and others, and nurture and cherish our health while we have it.