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.
Generational Definitions of Healthy
This blog has covered different ideas of health between different cultures, like China, Australia, Italy, etc, but that is hardly the tip of the iceberg. Where does America stand on the issue of health? Why do different generations see things like health differently than others? Is one more objectively better than the other? Also, what shaped each generational worldview regarding health? Where does nutrition fall into this?
We will be examining Baby Boomers and Generations X-Y-Z in America for in-depth answers to some of these questions.
This is defined as the generation of people that were born from 1946-1964 and were named after a mass increase of children being born after American soldiers came home from WWII. They grew up and participated at a time when civil rights were seen as the most important thing for the country and they have contributed greatly towards those political and social changes.
There was also major progress when it came to medicine. Vaccines for things like polio and measles were developed in the 1950s to the early 1970’s and drastically decreased the child mortality rate of that generation. There was also an increased awareness of things like mental health and a look at organizational psychology. While mental illnesses like schizophrenia were still stigmatized, there was an increased interest in behavioral science.
Things like home economics and nutritional education were more commonplace in the school system at the time and middle-class mothers who stayed at home painstakingly focused on nutrition when preparing meals. However, it wasn’t seen as a necessary survival skill for all students and was more of a result of gender stereotypes.
So, now that you have a snapshot of the past, how does that play into how the Babyboomers of today view health?
For starters, Baby Boomers are proactive when it comes to taking care of their own personal health.
They are unafraid to go to the doctor when they are sick, and they are attentive enough to do their own research and check with multiple doctors to make sure they have the right opinion and diagnosis.
They are also unafraid of getting prescription medication, the moment that they don’t feel too well. According to the American Medical Association,”Between 1996 and 2006, there was about a 25 percent increase in the number of people between the ages of 55 and 64 who received more than five prescriptions during a hospital visit.”
However, that doesn’t mean that they are considered the healthiest generation. Their increasingly sedentary lifestyle and increase in junk food intake have lead to an increase in obesity and chronic conditions that come with it. In the latest study by the United Health Foundation, boomers are presenting, “higher rates of obesity and diabetes and lower rates of very good or excellent health status, putting significant strain on the healthcare system.” They are also suffering an increase of depression and anxiety, mental conditions, and stress that comes with the rapid changes of globalization and technological growth.
What does it Mean?
When they think of health, they think about getting sick, taking medicine, and feeling better. It has more to do with fighting against disease and is less about a lifestyle concept for them. This kind of compartmentalization of health is common with the baby boomer generation since they are brought up to believe in ‘putting things in their place’. They grew up thinking their home life shouldn’t mix with their work life, that men and women have their places in the home and that doctors would know more about their health than anyone else. Their greatest concern to date is to combat aging and live longer. They accomplish this by dieting and exercising when their doctor tells them to and taking medications needed to help with physical problems.
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