• Women become concerned about their health 16 years earlier than they anticipate
  • 36 per cent of men over 55 believe their health will never become a worry
  • Men begin to worry about their health ten years later than women
  • A quarter of men only become concerned about their health between the ages of 60 and 69

British men and women should take their health more seriously at a much younger age than they think, according to nationwide research by leading health care cash plan provider Sovereign Health Care.

The survey* revealed that the age at which health becomes a concern is, on average, 14 years earlier than expected.  Women estimate their health will become a worry to them at the age of 58 years and three months, while men said 61 years and four months. But when asked when their health actually became a concern, for women it was 42 years and one month and men 49 years and ten months.

One in four men (25 per cent) only begin to worry about their health as late as 69 years old; what’s more, 36 per cent of men over 55 believe their health will never become a concern to them.

Speaking about the research, Sovereign Health Care chief executive, Russ Piper, said: “The results of this survey have highlighted some interesting and somewhat concerning trends. A key issue is that people are expecting their health to become a concern much later in life than it actually does.

“This means we should be prepared earlier in our lives to tackle ailments, or even better, prevent them from occurring in the first place.

“Taking a proactive stance on health is not only positive for the individual, but for society as a whole. If more people begin to embrace a healthy lifestyle, and are more proactive about their wellbeing earlier in life, pressure on NHS services could be eased allowing it to focus more on serious health issues.”

The research also questioned participants as to the ailments they are currently suffering from. Three of the common illnesses identified – diabetes, tooth decay and backache – became increasingly common amongst older responders, with a notable increase of those suffering from backache.

The survey reported an increase in 60 per cent in the amount of people suffering from backache between the ages of 45 and 54 when compared to those aged between 35 and 44 years old. The results also highlighted that 49 per cent of those suffering from backache are under the age of 55; a whole four years earlier than responders expected.

Russ continued: “The reality is that health issues begin to manifest themselves earlier than many people anticipate. This can mean that once they begin to appear, individuals will be on the back foot, especially when you consider even the most routine treatments can end up costing money and causing everyday health care bills to quickly mount up.

“Combine this with the fact that health concerns begin to materialise at the average age of 45, individuals without a plan in place to cover unexpected health care bills could easily face unnecessary financial burdens should they have to rely on statutory sick pay.

“We understand that even minor and short illness can have financial implications, which is a worry for many people, especially if their treatment isn’t covered by the NHS. We hope that people assess their health sooner rather than later, and investigate their options to assist with their personal health care.”

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