What happens when Gen X and Y caregivers are less healthy than their parents?
Updated: Nov 12, 2021
No one ever said that unpaid family caregivers have it easy.
Some 34.2 million spend almost 26 hours a week helping with dressing and undressing, personal hygiene, meals and other activities of daily living (40.5 hours a week if they and the senior they care for live under the same roof.
It can be hard work that calls for stamina and good health, and a national study shows they may be coming up short.
Statistical researchers led by Ohio State University sociology professor Hui Zheng crunched data from two surveys of a total of 688,054 Gen Xers (born 1965-80) and Gen Yers (born 1981-99) for eight markers of metabolic syndrome – a collection of risk factors for heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke. Some of those markers are waist size, blood pressure, cholesterol level, body mass index, chronic inflammation, and renal function.
What they found was that members of Generations X and Y were in poorer health than their parents’ generation was at the same age, in spite of decades of health and medical progress.
In fact, said Prof. Zheng, “[t]he worsening health profiles we found in Gen X and Gen Y is [sic] alarming.”
There were increases in metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation, and obesity. Along with those was increased “physical dysregulation,” a precursor to chronic diseases that combines high blood pressure and cholesterol, excess belly fat, and substances in the blood that suggest chronic body-wide inflammation.
“The declining health trends in recent generations is a shocking finding,” Prof. Zheng concludes. “It suggests we may have a challenging health prospect in coming years.” And it’s their parents’ generation, the Baby Boomers, who stand to be hardest hit. This year, the oldest Boomers are 75 years old, approaching or having reached the age when they’ll need caregiving help – and when their children may need help in providing it. So while every good senior care agency pays attention to their clients’ needs, that may not be enough.
It’s becoming increasingly important to pay attention to their family caregivers’ needs as well. This is something we’ve been doing ever since Senior Insights first opened its doors. The thorough three-part needs assessment that’s the basis of our individualized senior care management plans that cover not only our clients’ health, safety, and emotional needs, but those of their family caregivers as well.
So please contact us to learn more about holistic, coordinated senior care that’s good for caregivers and care receivers alike.