You’ve heard of Generation X, Gen Y…but have you heard of Gen W?
You are not alone, but it is not as unfamiliar as you may think…
Gen W describes the dawn of the digi-savvy human being, one who is curious and more conscious of protecting the quality of his or her health. The emergence of Gen W has led to an explosion of products and services aimed at improving health and longevity, with some attention on reducing the effects of ageing. But there is more interesting and relatable conversation to have when it comes to understanding the characteristics of Gen W. This generation of self-aware, self-driven health-conscious citizens are as interested in discovering their wellbeing as much as they are in other aspirational elements of their lifestyle. With a global wellness industry worth more than 2 trillion dollars, one cannot argue that Gen W is here and is here to stay for good. Why is this important?
A changing world = changing lifestyles
Barely 200 years ago, there were only 1 billion people in the world. Fast forward to 2018 and that number now sits at a hefty 7.7 billion. This is significant because it has introduced a term many scientists refer to as the ‘ageing population era’. Simply put, many more human beings are headed for a long (and hopefully) fruitful life here on earth. This population growth has had an impact on not just the macroeconomics affecting govern each country, but has also created pressure to expand resources such as housing, employment opportunities, healthcare and education. Before you panic, this is not bad news. The rising standards of living and improving health are just two of the factors cited in journals as contributing factors to the current population statistics, with an actual decline in the overall population growth rate since 1962.
When the good die young…
The 21st century gave birth to a more civilised and industrialised humanity, and with it, an increased number of productive income-earning citizens, spending between 8-16 hours earning their keep. With any hard-working workforce, come inevitable risks. One of them is lifestyle diseases.
MedCrave describes lifestyle diseases best as ‘ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people. Habits that detract people from activity and push them towards a sedentary routine can cause a number of health issues that can lead to chronic non-communicable diseases that can have near life-threatening consequences.’
The more worrying trend is that such non-communicable diseases, which include heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, seem to creep earlier in age than was the case 50 years ago. They contribute to 70% of all deaths globally, killing around 40 million people each year.
While scientists continue to work frantically to improve the complications of such conditions, the real impact of longevity movements lies with empowering citizens with the right knowledge, through the right channels, at the right time.
And this is where Gen W comes in. With the increased interest in health and wellness industries over the past two decades, supported by social media platforms that drive engagement and conversation, health and longevity have gained momentum as topical issues. Social networks are now so well established, that there is a core ‘top 5’ that not only dominate the scene, but have become influential virtual partners for improving health mindsets and attitudes of global users, connecting from one corner of the world to the other. Add to that the million of apps cluttering the digi-sphere, and you certainly have no excuse when it comes to understanding this health-savvy universe.
But, are there any pitfalls to being a member of Gen W? Of course.
The digital world may be a great ally in disseminating information, but it remains no substitute for longstanding clinical experience and expertise. I’ve had many a consultation with self-diagnosed individuals who, by the time they reluctantly seek help, have consumed amounts of differing medications and potions. This poses the risk of delaying recovery and sometimes even worsening a stable or unstable condition. While Gen Ws are often pressed for time due to busy lifestyles, the tendency to self-medicate every symptom is one that is not advisable, especially for ailments that are chronic in nature or those that involve or affect high-risk organs such as the heart, lungs, bowel, brains, immune system and skin.
The value of having a discerning health practitioner on speed dial may be worth considering for Gen Ws who have little time to seek medical help the conventional way (a visit to the doctor’s office). Fortunately, the medical industry has transformed its business models, providing trusted platforms for practitioners to guide their known clients through confidential portals. For doctors such as myself who integrate the Gen W trend of virtual health models as part of daily clinical practice, I can confirm their value in making the health experience more enjoyable and practical to clients whose history is well known and poses little or no risk to both patient and doctor.
The bottom line? This is an exciting time for healthcare, with innovation capturing the fascination of both clinicians and citizens. Whether you perceive yourself as a member of Gen W or not, nothing can improve your chances of living a quality life than being clued up about your own health. It’s the quality of the information that matters, especially when you really need it.
The ultimate reality is that in a world that relies on curative and preventative options to stay young, fit and strong, 99% of us would rather live a life without any ill-health. And when you think of the 7.7 billion wishing the same thing, wouldn’t you rather do your bit to beat the odds? There is no society where ignorance has ever saved lives.
The pursuit of a healthy lifestyle is a worthwhile one. It’s a changing world, and we’re changing right with it.