EML’s research identifies six aspects of life that are directly linked to increased happiness, health and prosperity. We also found that, depending on your age your prospects for an enjoyable later life will differ significantly. Here is one example – health care for the digital generation.
The Digital Generation are those currently aged 15 – 30. If increasing life expectancy and retirement trends continue as predicted, this generation can expect to work to age 80 or even 90 after which retirement beakons. However, to enjoy their extra years they will need to look after themselves – both mentally and physically – in ways not expected of their parents and grandparents.
Today’s Baby boomer generation (the grandparents) are enjoying a ‘golden age’ – good pensions and a good Health Service – and as a result they are living far longer than they had expected. These bonus years come at a cost and the UK government is well aware that neither the current state pension or NHS is sustainable over the medium term.
The Sandwich generation (aged 30 – 60) – squeezed between the Baby boomers and Digital – are the first generation ever predicted to be worse off than their parents. Their health has suffered from a convenience food diet, smoking and drinking to excess, insufficient exercise all of which has contributed to a rapid rise in preventable illness – the NHS is under pressure. Since it was founded in 1948 UK medical inflation has outstripped general inflation every year. The NHS now employs over one million people with running costs of well over £300m per day. Change is inevitable – the money is running out and the easiest target for savings are the self inflicted conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, alcohol related illnesses and obesity.
The Digital Generation sees this and understands. They know the NHS of today will not be there in the same way for them aged 80. They also know the best way have a happy, healthy and prosperous later life is the look after themselves – both physically and mentally, so, as far as possible, they can avoid becoming dependent on others.
Those under 30 use technology in a different way – Google ensures they are far better informed than their parents and grandparents – and while this insight may not always be used for good, when changes are needed they know what is required. Witness the boom in fitness bands- devices providing constant personalized feedback. As access to public health care becomes more difficult you can expect to see similar booms in other health related devices – heart rate monitors, intelligent scales (that calculate body fate and BMI), blood pressure monitors and thermometers. Waiting in the wings are self-administered blood test kits and ultra-sound scanners. The Digital Generation will also know their genetic make- up – what to look for and when.
This is good news for all of us. The best way to preserve the NHS is to reduce demand so that it will still be there when people really need it – especially the Digital generation.