Baby Boomers: Not So Unhealthy, After All

January 8, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Pharma & Healthcare | Privacy & Security | Social Media | Women

Contradicting some major studies that say Boomers are unhealthier than the generations before them, a new study by ThirdAge Inc. and JWT BOOM finds that 87% of Baby Boomers and aging mid-lifers (“ThirdAgers”) say they are in “good to excellent” health.

The “Boomers, Healthcare and Interactive Media Study” was conducted online at www.thirdage.com with over 1,300 respondents 40+ years old. The study’s findings are “consistent with the AARP’s National Health Interview Survey,” said Sharon Whiteley, CEO, ThirdAge Inc.

“Boomers and today’s mid-lifers, generally speaking are solution-oriented by nature,” said Lori Bitter, president of JWT BOOM. “Even though they may be dealing with conditions that come with age…they consider these issues as a ‘natural’ part of aging and overall feel confident that leading-edge therapies and science are going to keep them healthy and vital for years to come.”

Research findings indicate that future health solutions will include alternative or integrative medicine protocols: Over 83% of all ThirdAge respondents – not just those on the younger end of the spectrum – said they are somewhat or very interested in complementary and alternative approaches.

Topics taboo for earlier generations of the same age were also addressed in the health survey:

  • Of female respondents age 51 and older, 38.5% said they were moderately or extremely affected during menopause.
  • Among all female respondents, close to one-third (29.5%), said they are somewhat or very concerned about their partner’s sexual health.
  • Almost half of all male respondents (49.7%) reported that they have the same level of concern about their own partner’s sexual health.

Where Boomers Are Turning to For Healthcare Info

A primary way this dynamic demographic is gathering health-related information is the Internet, Bitter said: Over 89% of ThirdAgers go online for health information, with over 80% clicking on online ads about a health condition, product or service to receive more information.

Though Boomers are using the internet on a regular basis for health-related information, 73% of survey respondents also shared that they are concerned about their privacy.

“Trusted resources and credible information is clearly a factor,” Bitter said:

  • Close to one-third (28.5%) said they read health-related blogs.
  • 54% have taken, or reported they would enroll in, online health classes.
  • Over 25% of respondents have taken an offline health workshop.
  • 14.6% participate in online communities around health-related issues.
  • 27.3% watch health-related videos online “occasionally” or “frequently”; 72.7% say they watch such videos “infrequently” or “never.”

Other Top-Line Findings

  • A full 49.8% say they are in “very good” or “excellent” health, with another 37.8% saying they are in “good” health. Only 12.4% say that they are only in “fair” or “poor” health.
  • Still, about half of respondents (50.2%) say they suffer from one or more chronic conditions. The most commonly cited:
    • Hypertension (13.4%)
    • High cholesterol (12.1%)
    • Chronic back/neck problems (10.4%)
    • Osteoarthritis (7.1%)
    • Diabetes (6.1%)
    • Asthma (5.2%)
  • 15.5% say Alzheimer’s has been present in their immediate family.
  • 29.1% have visited a physician for a problem that they thought was heart-related.
  • Of female respondents age 51 or older, 38.5% say that they were “moderately affected” or “extremely affected” during menopause.
  • 82.8% of all respondents are “Somewhat interested” or “Very interested” in alternative or integrative medicine.
  • 12.7% have provided long-term care (at least three months) for a spouse or partner.
  • More – 39.8% – have provided care for an aging parent or other relative; among them:
    • 49.6% did so locally.
    • Another 37% did so under the same roof.
    • The remaining 13.4% organized long-distance care.
  • Survey respondents are concerned about privacy when visiting websites for health-related information (78.3% say they are “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned”).
  • 9.2% currently keep track of their health with a personal health record system; another 57.8% say that they don’t use one right now but would consider doing so.
  • 88.7% of respondents are insured (78.6% through an employer – their own or a spouse’s – and 21.4% through other means).
  • 25.6% have long-term care insurance already; another 43.5% would consider getting it.
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