Friday, February 24, 2012

Is Your Parents' Health Your Destiny?

I attended a health technology forum recently in Silicon Valley, and, not surprisingly, the issue of health care for Baby Boomers came up. A number of promising new technologies and services are being developed to keep Boomers healthier and help them avoid expensive hospital stays as they age.

The people who are watching Boomer health most carefully, however, are not those creating and funding these new technologies; they are the children of the Boomers. As some speakers noted at the forum, many children of aging parents want to take steps now to avoid developing the chronic illnesses that they see their parents struggle with.

I thought about children of the Boomers when I read the article "12 Ways to Live a Better Life" in the Washington Post this week, based on the book 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by gerontologist Karl A. Pillemer. The book compiles life advice from 1,000-plus elderly that Pillemer interviewed, including advice to make healthy changes early in life to help avoid the miseries of chronic disease later in life.

The Baby Boomers are certainly driving changes and innovation in health care. But their children, who are starting to see first-hand the effects of extending life without improving the quality of life, are the ones who will probably work hardest to decrease the high rate of chronic disease in the U.S.

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