Baby Boomers Come of Age
he media has celebrated — or at least noted — the aging of the baby boomer generation, as the likes of Bill Clinton, George and Laura Bush, Cher, and Donald Trump all pass the 60 mark. They have plenty of company. In New Jersey alone, 50,000
residents will hit that milestone each year for the next two decades.
As we baby boomers inexorably shift the demographic curve to the right, we take some comfort in knowing that people of all ages are getting healthier and that aging, in and of itself, is not an illness.
We are also learning that the mental and physical frailties associated with aging are not inevitable and do not occur uniformly in people of any particular age. Many of us are trying to get ahead of the curve and learn what we can do to prevent the deterioration brought on by chronic disease, so that we can maintain a full and active quality of life for as long as possible.
In a poll conducted by Parade magazine in 2005, 84 percent of Americans reported the belief that they could proactively affect the way they age. This optimism is well founded — the features in this issue of UMDNJ magazine demonstrate that.
We have asked UMDNJ experts — most themselves baby-boomers — to address the health issues topping the list for this generation. Each topic is explored from two perspectives, by a researcher and by a clinician. Our specialists discuss the newest information about cancer, heart disease, mental state, diabetes, weight gain, arthritis, vision problems, and sexual dysfunction.
Boomers are expected to live longer than any previous generation of Americans. While actuarial tables show they can expect to reach 82.3 years, many are looking to run the distance and live to 100. But in everyone’s mind looms the big question: Will those later years actually be vigorous and healthy, or will many baby boomers be sidelined by the same diseases that felled their parents and grandparents?
What our UMDNJ researchers and clinicians tell us in this issue bolsters my confidence that the answer is the one we want to hear: our expectations for a long and active life look very promising.
Bruce C. Vladeck