For many people, health is not something that concerns them on a daily basis. While work, personal relationships, friendships and even trivial matters can be a source of daily worry, generally health is not something that is at the forefront of people’s minds until it begins to deteriorate.
A nationwide survey* of UK adults commissioned by Sovereign Health Care indicates that men do not expect their health to become a concern to them until they are in their sixties, but in reality it happens before they reach 50 years of age.
For women, the gap is even wider, with female respondents expecting to be 58 before they become concerned about their health, but this actually occurs when they reach the age of 42.
Too little too late
Overall, the nation’s adults are worrying about their health 14 years earlier than expected, but for many this is still too late, as the survey revealed that many problems traditionally associated with older people are affecting the young.
The survey revealed that although just over three in 10 people aged over 55 currently suffer from backache, it affects a fifth of people aged under 25, while the number of students suffering from poor eyesight (38%) is twice as high as the number of retirees with poor vision (19%).
For many people, it appears that they would do things differently if they had the chance, with one in ten respondents saying they wish they had taken their health and wellbeing more seriously when they were younger.
The impact on the individual also appears to be a key factor, with more than a quarter of people saying they would take their health more seriously if it had a positive effect on their overall feelings of wellbeing.
Expectation vs reality
There does remain a significant proportion of the population that is allowing their health to take a back seat, with those aged 16 to 24 all placing money, career and relationships ahead of wellbeing.
There remains a relaxed attitude among young people, with one in five adults aged under 24 saying that health does enter their thoughts but that they feel they still have plenty of time to “sort it out”, and would prefer to enjoy their youth rather than let it concern them.
As people grow older, health gradually makes its way up their list of priorities, yet it still sits behind money for those aged 25 to 55.
The survey results suggest there is still plenty that can be done by people to change their attitude to health, yet a pervasive line of thought among young people appears to be that health will only become a pressing issue in later life.
This is at odds with the responses given by older people, who are generally becoming concerned about their health earlier than they expected; on average, UK adults are now worrying about health 14 years earlier than expected, although there are still groups who remain defiant in their attitudes.
The results of the survey illustrate that UK adults differ greatly in their attitudes towards their health, but a general trend remains for younger people to let it take a back seat until they reach a point in their lives when their health actually begins to affect them.
As with many things in life, taking a proactive approach to health can help us to prepare for eventualities in later life or prevent them from happening in the first place.
One way to be proactive about your health is with a health care cash plan. Cash plans pay you money back towards a range of health care bills, including dental, optical, prescription charges and physiotherapy, helping to make treatment more affordable and accessible.
*2015 Censuswide survey of 1,501 UK adults aged 16 and over.