Everyone is Different – So is our Perception of Health
Whether a person’s opinion or way of life is shaped by their upbringing or genetics, there is no argument that everyone in the world sees everything differently. You would be hard-pressed to find two individuals that agree on every single thing. Heck, even when it comes to the people we love, we sometimes disagree or outright argue over a topic that is important to them. When we participate in such a conflict, it doesn’t mean that either party is 100 percent wrong or right. When we have these conflicts it just means that we carry a level of subjectivity, that comes with the human experience.
That’s why it should be no surprise to anyone that different generations of people have so many different viewpoints when it comes to health and how we manage it.
If there was ever a generation that is the living embodiment of the ‘middle child syndrome’, it would be Generation X. Typically defined as the generation born between 1966-1976, Gen X had front row seats to drastic changes in the way people defined society. The earliest of the generation witnessed the implementation of racial integration in schools, women joining the workforce, and were typically children of divorced parents.
In a stark contrast to their parent’s upbringing, society was less focused on the needs of the children, and more on the needs of adults. It didn’t help that there wasn’t that much in the way of childcare in the 70’s either. This meant that while either a single parent or both parents went out to work every day, children would be mostly unsupervised.
This sort of upbringing combined with political scandal and economic recession coming out of the woodwork has shaped the children of this generation to be self-sufficient, skeptical of authority, pragmatic, and resourceful in their own way.
Today, the typical Gen Xer is middle-aged and are caught between taking care of their growing children and their aging parents. They see themselves as the primary decision makers when it comes to the entire family, including things like healthcare.
They demand transparency from the people they are working with, and are the first generation with a “work to live” attitude. Things like bureaucracy and red tape annoy them the most, and they prefer to be directly involved with the people they are working with.
Unfortunately, when it comes to their health, Gen Xers are doing worse than their parents and children when it comes to preventative measures and doctors visits. According to the latest MDVIP Longevity survey:
- Only half (55 percent) of Gen Xers – versus 72 percent of Boomers – have had an annual physical exam in the past five years.
- One in three (32 percent) Gen Xers avoid going to the doctor out of fear of finding something wrong.
- Two out of three Gen Xers admit they could be doing a better job of exercising regularly (67 percent), eating well (66 percent), maintaining a healthy weight (63 percent) and managing stress (66 percent).
And the sad part is that they are aware that they aren’t taking care of themselves, but are too overwhelmed to confront the situation.
What does it Mean?
Most likely, it means that Gen Xers want to do better, and know they should do more regarding their health but are quick to ignore their own needs and preventative measures for the sake of other family members and responsibilities. Maybe it is a byproduct of long-term neglect, but it is a phenomenon that is bad enough to decrease the average American life expectancy for the first time in 20 years.
To them, healthcare is a nebulous and terrifying concept that takes a great amount of effort and causes a large amount of anxiety. Healthcare and the idea of preventative health need to be addressed to this generation as a series of small pragmatic steps. They should also get the chance to feel included in the discussion with their doctors and less like they are just another patient.