Take Stock of Your Health Habits

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When caring for an aging loved one, you’ve likely had moments in which you’ve vowed to stay healthy as you age and hope you won’t be dependent on someone to care for you in your later years. But the fact is, especially with the pressures of caregiving, it’s important to take stock of your own habits if you want to live healthier than your parents’ generation.

The baby boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is often portrayed as more fit, active and youthful than their parents were at the same age. But in reality, obesity rates for boomers are double what they were for their parents of the same age and, according to a Statistics Canada survey, only about half of boomers are physically active.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2013 Report on Health of Canadians advises that boomers must act now to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Report findings:

  • Nine in 10 Canadians already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
  • About 40 percent of Boomers are not getting enough physical activity.
  • One in five Boomers smoke.
  • Almost 30 percent of Boomers say they are often or always stressed.
  • About 85 percent do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Boomers are getting sicker earlier in life, are more limited in the work they can do and are more likely to need the use of a cane or walker. According to Dana E. King, the lead author of a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, “The results of this study say you become sicker sooner and you are burdened with chronic disease and are taking medications, yet you live longer. There needs to be a new emphasis and continued attention to programs to improve healthy lifestyles in this age group.”

You Can Turn the Tide
If you’re sandwiched between caring for your parents and your own family, time to care for yourself may often get pushed aside. And while society has been fortunate enough to have the conveniences of transportation, technology and electronic devices our parents didn’t have, these have undoubtedly contributed to inactivity for this and future generations. It’s becoming increasingly important to change the course of this unhealthy trend.

Recipe for Better Health
Physical activity and a healthy diet are the main ingredients, but stress reducers also play an important role. Here are some resources to help you and your loved ones live an overall healthier lifestyle.

Fight the Trend
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s 2013 Report on Health of Canadians and the JAMA study results are a wake-up call to start developing healthy habits now so you can add vitality—not just length—to your life and truly enjoy your final years.