It’s no secret that the millennial generation embraces wellness and has helped bring health-mindedness to the forefront of pop culture today. But when it comes to taking care of more serious health challenges, many experts are noticing people in their 20’s or 30’s are approaching healthcare differently and often prioritizing “living their best lives” over thinking about their health.
For younger people with serious health issues, putting off talking to a doctor or not getting on an effective therapy after the diagnosis of a chronic disease can have irreversible implications in the long-term. This is especially true with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS), the most common debilitating, progressive disease, which affects one million U.S. adults – striking in the “prime of life” when people are starting careers and families, and eventually leading to irreversible physical disability for many people. With the average age of onset at 34, most people newly diagnosed with MS over the next 10 to 15 years will be millennial-aged people (ages ~22-39).
According to the National MS Society many people newly diagnosed with MS react with shock and denial, often leading to them not taking proactive steps to manage their disease or connect with the broader MS community. It is important for millennial-aged people to be proactive in their care and pursue early treatment to slow disability progression as they are at an age and point in their disease when a disease-modifying therapy may offer greater impact.
Channing Barker, a millennial-aged person living with MS, joined me to shed light on her experience of living with MS and working with her doctor to take control of her health. Anne Gilbert, Director of Programs at Can Do MS, a national MS advocacy group known for their work with younger people living with MS, also shared her perspectives on the need to better connect with and support this younger generation of people living with MS.