Health Dilemmas: The Implications of Living Longer
Having studied history in the 70′s, it’s now fascinating to see TV series and books such as Dominic Sandbrook’s on the period to try and untangle some of the myths and realities around events I actually lived through.
However, it’s also inspired me to reflect on the wealth of experience my work in health and science PR has given me over the last 30 years along with the potential of the broad range of clients we have here at MSL Health.
A Big ‘If’..
Firstly, I would say that the growing belief that we will all now live longer should be qualified with a big “if” since it is largely based on the assumption that living and thus hopefully nutrition standards will continue to improve. This, I fear, is now in doubt due to the economic crisis, even in the developed world – for the first time in the UK it’s reported that families are spending less on food, whilst the sight of food kitchens in Athens is perhaps a portent of things to come.
Nevertheless, if we live longer, there will be a push and pull effect. By this I mean that health services will simply not be able to cope. Already in Scandinavia, they have calculated that 2 out of 3 young people would have to work in the health service to look after their elders. This has led to interesting initiatives at a number of levels.
Hospitals are being designed to reduce patient stays to a minimum. At the same time, there are fascinating experiments in tele-medicine designed to monitor and care for patients at home. Couple this with progress I see through several of our clients such as Cambridge Cognition and DiaGenic on early detection of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the basics of care could fall into place.
However, I think a key factor in the future will be a pull one. Despite the economic crisis, we have a generation of baby boomers who will increasingly reject the notion of winding down, becoming less active and being consigned to a care home. Quality of life will be seen as a right. Furthermore, they have the purchasing power to attract the attention of industry and stimulate innovation. How far this will go, I would hesitate to predict, but we are already seeing more aggressive expectations of, for example, hip replacements.
Here at MSLGROUP, we will also shortly be working on changing attitudes towards hearing loss with our client Cochlear, believing that it is not a natural progression that should be passively accepted. And as a child of the 70′s, who at the time rebelled against the indoctrination that life ended in your forties, I will drive that account with a passion!
Richard has worked in healthcare communications for over 30 years for both private and public sector clients – ranging from GSK and Genzyme to the Roslin Institute, Innovation Norway and the EU. He has a strong interest in putting scientific developments into a social and economic perspective.
Originally posted on MSL London’s Blog.