Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A "Lifelong Health" column from Dr. David Lipschitz warns of huge increases in disability among baby boomers as they live longer; lifestyle choices?

A “Lifelong Health” column from Dr. David Lipschitz, published on p D10 of the Washington Times on December 14, warns “Boomers face rise in disabilities”. The link (hard to find with search engines) is (web URL) here.

David argues that the biggest threat to the American health care system is not just health insurance company behavior as we debate it today, but “the high prevalence of physical or cognitive disabilities in Americans older than 85 that make them dependent on others and no longer able to live alone.”

Later on he remains equally blunt. “Baby boomers are not as healthy as their parents. They do not eat as well, are more sedentary and weight a great deal more. Although this constellation of features does not necessarily shorten life expectancy, it definitely will affect quality of life.”

The American Public Health Association has a link to an abstract of a study to be published in the January 2010 in the American Journal of Public Health, showing a marked increase in change in disability levels of adults 60 and over who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in 1988 and 1999. Disability rates for people in their 60s has increased rapidly.

So the eldercare debate has been cast by the right wing in terms of “demographic winter” with longer life spans with disability (particularly Alzheimer's Disease) at the end, and fewer children to support them, leaving to “moral” debates about filial responsibility and family values. But the facts show that disability is increasing rapidly at much younger ages, too.

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