Women over 60 today can expect to live longer than any previous generation. Not only are we better educated about how to stay healthy, but, advancements in medicine are also giving us a longevity boost.
However, as our life expectancy increases, many of us will have to deal with one of more chronic conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, at some point in our lives. For example, this article reports that 39 percent of U.S. Baby Boomers are obese and 16 percent have diabetes.
This raises some important questions: Can the health care system handle our medical needs as we age? Will we have enough doctors and nurses to take care of us? How will people living alone or in rural areas get access to the medical attention they need and support for the emotional side-effects of isolation?
One answer is that technology will have to take over some of the roles that we have traditionally looked to doctors to perform. I’m sure that this very idea makes many women of my generation nervous. After all, for many of us, the family doctor was a family friend and even confidant.
Whether we feel comfortable with it or not, technology is playing a greater role in every aspect of the medical industry. The model of connected health allows patients and doctors to interact remotely. For example, you might have a conversation with your doctor on Skype. In this model, the doctor has access to your entire medical history and can perform routine checks, review medications and provide nutritional advice without your having to travel to his office.
Patients are also using technology to take their health into their own hands. Services like WebMD and Health Tap allow people to research medical conditions and have educated conversations with their doctors. Beyond gathering information online, products like Fitbit and Jawbone help people of all ages to keep track of how much they are moving, sleeping and eating.
For Christmas, my daughter-in-law gave me a very fashionable Jawbone Up wristband that makes sure I walk 10,000 steps a day, get enough sleep and eat the right foods. I was skeptical at first, but, I have to admit that I’ve seen good results. And, it is fun to be aware of my lifestyle habits. Now, if I can just break my lavender infused dark chocolate addiction! :)
There is no denying that technology will facilitate amazing improvements in healthcare for boomers. But, I also wonder though about whether women of our generation are prepared to let go of the personal touch that our family doctors provide. Personally, I hope that the people who are designing tomorrow’s healthcare systems find a way to use technology to bring us closer to our doctors, even if we live further apart.
Would you be comfortable talking online with a doctor as opposed scheduling an office visit? Would you wear a device that tracked your lifestyle activities? Please leave your comments below.