Not willing to give up their late-night Peter, Paul and Mary sing-alongs, baby boomers continue to jet from Europe to Asia and back again while popping their B vitamins and sipping their Breathe Easy herbal tea. Still climbing corporate ladders while taking care of their new grandchildren, boomers are as busy as ever struggling for balance in their lives.

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are also becoming actively involved in lengthening and promoting their own quality of life. They refuse to accept physical limitations, low energy and lapses in memory as the norm for growing older. Boomers are the driving force behind breakthrough research that dramatically slows aging, improves memory loss, restores vital energy and possibly could turn back the hands of time.

The latest hot topics in anti-aging research include increasing life span by taking DMAE (a nutrient that helps produce choline to improve and facilitate memory); controlling free radicals via antioxidants before they destroy brain cells; and taking magnesium for tired brains, glucosamine for joint pain, gingko biloba for improved short-term memory and green tea for cancer prevention.

Stress, according to volumes of research, boosts appetite, creates stomach disorders and causes wrinkles—so boomers have turned, without hesitation, to meditation, yoga, going to spas and weekly bodywork.

Leading the charge is Oprah, who’s eponymous new magazine entices the 78 million boomers to clamor for stress release and anti-aging information. She not only does a great job promoting healthy aging, but she reaches into America’s diverse melting pot and convinces everyone, no matter who they are, that they have a birth right to be healthy as they grow older.

The next generation of healthcare will reflect the current anti-aging trend. Boomers are spending billions of dollars trying to stay young. But it may be that boomers, who have seen enough of our current healthcare system, are wise in looking for a better way as they approach their senior years. Already many of them may have been through a tedious nursing home experience with a parent or loved one or possibly a cancer-related illness or death. The onslaught of invasive therapies such as surgery, along with the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs that produce life-threatening illnesses, may be part of the motivation for boomers to seek alternatives.

What boomers want, as demonstrated by where their dollars are going, seems to be a safer, gentler approach to better health and more effective wellness programs with an emphasis on preventive, complementary and integrated healthcare.

The surge in use of vitamins, homeopathics, herbs, and non-invasive therapies is not by chance. Boomers want to take control of their own lives and not be stuck in overcrowded nursing homes waiting for a nurse’s aid to come and take them off of the bedpan. By searching for the secrets for a longer, healthier life or by looking for the fountain of youth, boomers are creating the next generation of healthcare options.

The good news is the boomers are discovering hundreds of ways to avoid diseases, reverse illnesses and enhance the quality of their health. Emerging on the scene is controlling blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, unclogging arteries, reversing arthritis and diabetes—all without drugs. They have rediscovered the lost art of organic farming, herbal tinctures and energy medicine.

Getting a second opinion has a different meaning to boomers—how about third opinions and a “team” of healthcare providers, including the doctor, the psychologist, the polarity practitioner and maybe even the psychic? Boomers have certainly become the epitome of the smart consumer. Not being afraid to ask questions, accessing information via the

Internet and knowing when to say “no” creates options.

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine recently held an anti-aging conference that included topics on the success of alternative treatment therapies for cancer, detoxification of environmental poisons and heavy metals, stress, fatigue and premature aging, hyper-baric oxygen therapy and its role in anti-aging medicine and the immune system and anti-aging. So it seems that medicine is meeting the boomers’ needs by looking at the causes of aging, discovering anti-aging factors that work in prevention and accepting that non-invasive therapies should be the favored first choice of

treatment whenever possible.

Does it seem strange that we could envision a 120-year-old woman or man cheerfully riding her or his bike around Kelly’s Island on a beautiful autumn day? Or see the day arrive when there is a safer, gentler approach to better healthcare with a longer quality of life?

Julian Whitaker, editor of Health and Healing, defines future health: “By ‘health,’ I don’t mean the mere absence of disease, but a vitality, zest and energy coursing through your veins that makes you thrilled to be alive.”

Fountain of youth—why not? May the longtime sun shine upon you.