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Boom time in the Tiers

Boom time in the Tiers

The first Southern Tier baby boomers celebrated their 65th birthdays this year, and about three out of four of them and others nearing this milestone self-rate their health as good or better, even though half report having at least one chronic condition, according to a report issued earlier this year by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Upstate New Yorkers who are 60 to 65 years old also feel good about their lives, with about 95 percent reporting very high life satisfaction. That's slightly above the 93 percent of 18 to 59 year-olds who reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their lives.

"The Facts About Turning 65 in Upstate New York" delves into health-related issues facing the oldest of the post-war baby boom generation (Americans born between 1946 and 1964). The report also highlights actions they can take to maintain their health status.

"Today's 65-year-olds can expect to live an additional 19 years, which is about five years longer than was expected for an individual of similar age in 1946, the first year of the baby boom," says Dr. Marybeth McCall, Excellus BCBS chief medical officer. "But with aging comes a host of acute and chronic health conditions."

Among 60- to 65-year-old upstate New Yorkers who responded to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 14.5 percent have been diagnosed with one or more forms of cancer, about 20 percent indicated they had cardiovascular disease or diabetes and 51.9 percent have arthritis. That's why older New Yorkers incur a disproportionate amount of health care expenses relative to the size of their population.

But there is something that boomers can do to improve those figures. Just three preventable behavioral risks factors: smoking, poor diet and physical inactivity, account for more than a third of chronic disease deaths and all are directly tied to heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes. The CDC has issued its Healthy People objectives for the year 2020 to try to get boomers to take control of their own health and set goals to improve the overall health of Americans. The Healthy People objectives include goals for higher numbers of colorectal cancer screenings, and pneumonia and seasonal flu vaccinations; as well as population-wide goals for lowering cholesterol levels, and those with high blood pressure.

The figures show that older boomers are lagging behind in these categories, but the goals also give them an opportunity to take charge of their own health, set goals for themselves and make their golden years even more rewarding!

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield