This unified push from all age groups is driven by the realization of greater personal responsibility for their own health. They now take a harder look at how they lead their lives and are making better choices to keep their health on track. In fact, three quarters of American adults acknowledge that they are taking more personal responsibility for their health today compared to ten years ago with the majority doing so to not have to rely on others when they are ‘older.’ This evolving self responsibility movement may be driven by the notion that health responsibility transcends generational boundaries as each age group is adopting behaviors best suited to their needs.
One of the top fears of aging is ‘losing mental capacity,’ and concern over brain and cognitive health is not just reserved for older generations, as NMI research shows that consumers of all ages exhibit rather high concern over the integrity of their cognitive functioning. In addition, emerging science is showing that losing one’s brain capacity and mental faculties are not necessarily an inevitable consequence of age, but the result of other factors such as diet, daily activities, financial stress, social isolation, and even anxiety (highest among the youngest consumers). The advent of internet ‘brain games’ such as Lumosity and the positioning of DHA Omega 3 as a brain supplement are just two examples that cognitive health is becoming an expansive opportunity for industries equipped with the insights to understand the breadth of possibilities within the market of cognitive health.
Financial health is also important to all consumers and it has ramifications for their physical and emotional health as well. Particularly after the economic turmoil of the last 5 years, the good news is consumers now appear more optimistic about their financial plan for retirement. In fact, consumers who are ‘on target’ with their financial plan for retirement are more likely to rate their physical health as very good to excellent, feel they have control over healthcare expenses, and expect to live a longer life than those consumers who do not feel they are on target. Over the past several years, consumers, including Millennials, reveal they have increasingly become savers rather than spenders. That said, consumers still fear that a major illness could destroy their financial future prompting even more lucid financial and health oriented behaviors to help ensure long term independence from illness and financial decline.
The economic downturn has also caused many consumers to re-evaluate what is actually important on a more personal level. Four out of five consumers indicate they are becoming more aware of personal relationships instead of personal possessions. In fact, Gen X (aged 37-47) is more likely to feel they have accumulated too many material possessions. Many consumers are looking for new relevance in every area of their lives by searching for a deeper sense of purpose and connection, with almost two-thirds over 45 stating they want to build a sense of community in their lives. Their desire to find socialization and purpose is reflected in the large numbers of consumers taking part in social networking sites and in volunteer organizations. One manifestation of this ‘coming together’ is the rise of ‘walkable’ neighborhoods. These compact urban layouts with tighter street grids are new types of communities which encourage residents to stay close to home and promote a deeper sense of connection among their community.
Consumers across all ages are recalibrating what is important in their lives to establish balance and healthy lifestyle goals in order to feel healthy, independent, and secure as they age. They are starting to make long-term changes to their lifestyle in a trend that represents realistic and tangible steps rather than sporadic and short-lived initiatives. As healthy aging expands, opportunities will continue to flourish across all categories and ages. Recent research findings from NMI’s 2013 report, Trends in Healthy Aging: A Multi-Generation Perspective can provide a multitude of industries with targeted insight to meet the challenges and opportunities within healthy aging.
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