Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Behavioral Determinants of Health Aging Revisited: An Update on the Good News for the Baby Boomer Generation

Academic journal article Online Journal of Issues in Nursing

Behavioral Determinants of Health Aging Revisited: An Update on the Good News for the Baby Boomer Generation

Article excerpt

Abstract

On October 15th, 2007, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling became the first Baby Boomer to ride the "silver tsunami" by applying for her social security benefits. Riding a wave is an appropriate analogy for Baby Boomers given the expectations they have for their later years. Now, just as it was in the original 2003 Behavioral Determinants article, the answer to the question, "Can this generation of Americans expect to achieve a satisfying, high- quality life as older adults?" is still a resounding yes. But now, there is greater clarity and more specific detail as to exactly what the Baby Boomer generation should, and can, be doing to insure that they have the quality of life as older adults that they have become accustomed to in their younger years. To that end, this article will examine the updated recommendations for physical activity and psychological elements associated with healthy aging.

Citation: Potkanowicz, E., Hartman-Stein, P., Biermann J., (July 22, 2009) "Behavioral Determinants of Health Aging Revisited: An Update on the Good News for the Baby Boomer Generation" OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 14 No. 3. Available: www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol142009/No3Sept09/Articles -Previous-Topics/Update-and-Baby-Boomer-Generation.aspx

Keywords: age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease, authentic happiness in late life healthy aging, cardiovascular fitness, cognitive functioning, flexibility training, late life vitality, life-span psychology view of aging, older adult quality of life, prevention of cognitive impairment, primary prevention of geriatric depression, reducing risk of resistance training, successful aging, wellness

On October 15th, 2007, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling became the first of the Baby Boomer generation to ride the "silver tsunami" (a term coined by Mary Finn Maples in 2002 to represent the rising swell Baby Boomers moving towards older adulthood) by applying her social security benefits. Having been born at one second past midnight on January 1, 1946, Ms. Casey-Kirschling has the unique distinction of being regarded as Baby Boomer #1. The "wave" is not only a figurative symbol for the Baby Boomers. The wave is also this group's literal expectation for continuing an active and fulfilling lifestyle into their later years. In other words, Baby Boomers want to hike, bike, and surf their way into retirement.

In the original Behavioral Determinants article (Hartman-Stein & Potkanowicz, 2003), we spoke of the leading edge of the Baby Boomer generation moving steadily towards their older adult years. Those born between 1946 and 1964 will start to reach the age of 65 by 2011; and estimates now suggest that by 2030 the number of adults 65 years of age and over will be 71 million, or, 20% ofthe United States (U.S.) population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDCI, 2007). The wave is a big one.

Like the steady march of this Baby Boomer generation, the recommendations for healthy aging have continued to move forward and change as well. As such, an update to the original (2003) article is warranted. The foundation for this update is the recent position stand released jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association (AHA) (Nelson et al., 2007). This position stand incorporates the recommendations of numerous health and fitness organizations, findings from the research community, and literature reviews. This position stand suggests that now, just as it was in 2003, the answer to the question, "Can this generation of Americans expect to achieve a satisfying, high-quality life as older adults?" is still a resounding yes. But now, there is greater clarity and more specific detail as to exactly what the Baby Boomer generation should be doing to insure that they have the quality of life as older adults that they have become accustomed to in their younger years. …

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