In this weeks Livwise feature, we talk about something different, our health, and some surprising facts about how we may need to plan for it in the future.
Over the last couple of decades, we have visibly seen healthcare services improve. What used to be treated by a GP possibly as a child, it today treated by a specialist. That once popular term “family doctor” is a declining species, as the urban climber visits speciality clinics and super-speciality hospitals for getting “better” care.
Why is this the case? Partly due to the fact that medical care has indeed advanced. In every suburb, while erstwhile clinics and nursing homes still exist, fancy glass-covered hospitals also stand out. We feel (and we could be right) that specialist doctors in these modern hospitals are possibly better equipped to treat us. Also, disposable incomes have increased and we are willing to easily spend a 4 (or sometimes 5) figure sum to get ourselves a “more certain” fix. Lastly, with better education as well as the internet, general awareness of illnesses is far higher. In general, we also love to self-diagnose, and a runny nose which earlier was a symptom of possibly just a simple cold, could today be a pointer to many more complex ailments.
Anyways, with better medical care at our disposal, as well as fundamentally better preventive measures being taken, life expectancy is going up dramatically. What used to be around 54 in 1980 in India is now 69 in 2016 (likely to be above 70 right now). With medical science continuing to improve and general awareness levels on fitness and health exploding, one can expect these numbers to hit late 80s by the time our generation ages (ie. around 2050) and maybe even three-figures by the time the millennials age (around 2075). This means that while our health will improve, we must be prepared financially to live longer and hence the retirement planning assumptions we make become all the more crucial.
All these health care advances would mean that many germ-borne diseases would be controlled or eradicated and better personal practices could help us prevent the incidence of lifestyle diseases such as BP or diabetes. But it might surprise, or even shock you to know that all this increase in life expectancy is also leading to an increase in cancer incidences. It is already happening if you look around, and more people around us seem to getting it. The reason for it is that cancer is a disease that is “internally born”. To quote from the below article, “Cancer is, fundamentally, a disease of wear and tear”. Hence, while we plan to live longer and enjoy our retired lives through smart retirement planning, it is important to also take into account this fact and work that into our plans.
This brilliant article by Sri Krishna in The Wire tells us why we in India should be worried and planning better as a nation for cancer as a disease.