As they grow up, Millennials (born between 1981-1996) have proven to be a resilient, adaptable group. The generation raised on 9/11, the Great Recession, and the complacency of climate change have a strong drive to improve the quality of life not only for themselves but for others as well.
As the largest living generation in the United States, millennials are transforming everything we consume. With their preference for socially and environmentally friendly products, they achieve considerable purchasing power that brings about change. And since they grew up with a focus on comprehensive health and wellness education, they are also considered to be the “most health conscious” generation. As they approach family life and decide how to access health services, they create a seismic shift that upsets the status quo.
With the rising cost and time constraints of the traditional American healthcare system, millennials are acting on prescription drugs as the first step against alternatives they consider safer for both their wallets and their health. According to experts at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU), many are turning to complementary and integrative health (CIH) and no longer reserving conventional care as the first stop on their way to health care. “This younger generation is investing in disease prevention rather than waiting to get sick to seek treatment,” said Brad Finer, DC, professor and faculty clinician at NWHSU, who has seen these changes firsthand at his clinic .
Rather than reactively treating symptoms, CIH modalities work to align the body’s systems to prevent disease, with the goal of balancing the organs for optimal function. In other words, to improve a person’s overall health. “In my experience, millennials don’t want to throw medication at a problem just to make it come back,” says Stacy Boone-Vikingson, DC, CACCP, clinic director at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Bloomington Clinic , “They just want to get to the root of the problem.”
For example, Boone-Vikingson recalls a number of young parents who found that their autistic child was better relieved by chiropractic adjustments than psychiatric medication. The child could not concentrate and behaved badly both at school and at home. Instead of medication, these millennial parents opted for spinal and cranial sacral work and noticed a huge difference in his behavior.
Technology creates a desire to do better
Smartphones are ubiquitous and offer instant access to health and wellness information. As a result, doctors are no longer the appointed porters of knowledge about disease prevention. As digital natives, millennials want information now, not later, which makes them impatient with the inefficiency of communicating with healthcare providers. “Millennials prefer to google a disease or symptom before seeing a doctor because they want instant access to information,” says Boone-Vikingson, a millennial himself.
“This younger generation is investing in disease prevention rather than waiting to get sick to seek treatment,” said Brad Finer, DC, professor and faculty clinician at NWHSU, who has seen these changes firsthand at his clinic .
Generation Z (born after 1997), who grew up with technology in hand before preschool, bring their knowledge of technology to an even higher level. “Gen Z is even more open-minded. They seek solutions to bigger problems than Millennials, ”says Michele Vincent, DC, faculty clinician and associate professor at NWHSU. “The latest generation takes the information on their smartphones and puts it into action. They want to reduce inequalities in health care, fight global warming and put an end to the toxic waste that is killing the earth. “
Unsurprisingly, young parents who have sworn by CIH for years are incorporating this type of care into their fertility efforts, pregnancies, and prenatal care. CIH practitioners examine a woman’s entire body, including her central nervous system, and work to optimize the function of her cells, biomechanics, and energy flow. “We have seen amazing results in women who turn to acupuncture and chiropractic care to get pregnant,” says Vincent.
More and more pregnant millennials are relying on CIH therapies to help overcome uncomfortable side effects such as back pain, nausea, and vomiting. Instead of taking potentially harmful drugs to suppress these common problems, they use CIH practices like acupressure, acupuncture, and chiropractic to help relieve symptoms.
From birth, babies and toddlers benefit from treatments ranging from birth trauma such as shoulder misalignments to typical childhood ailments such as ear infections and colic. And as they get older, says Finer, the Bloomington Clinic sees many musculoskeletal injuries and chronic problems from exercise, online games, and hours of looking at electronics. “Bad posture leads to bad habits,” he says. “The good news is that children heal faster and respond faster to treatment.”
The bottom line is that healthy lifestyles are high on the list of lessons millennial parents want to pass on to their children. “Millennials want to raise their children without the fast-paced stressors, physical consequences, and emotional struggles caused by their parents’ lifestyle,” says Vincent. “The rise in poor health outcomes such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease has laid the foundation for a growing interest in healthier, natural living.”
A brighter future
With improved health and functionality, Millennials model resilience and teach future generations about the importance of natural care and prevention. They give their kids a head start by helping them grow up, relieve stress, eat well, and ultimately fight off disease. Instead of helping them break bad habits that will harm them in the long run, millennials keep their children from developing them in the first place. “This generation is reducing the need for expensive health care services and the associated insurance costs,” says Vincent. “The exchange of knowledge and individual changes in behavior make a big difference.”
Bloomington-based Northwestern Health Sciences University is a pioneer in inclusive natural health education, offering degrees in chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, medical assistance, medical laboratory programs, post-bac / pre-health, radiation therapy, and BS degrees. The Bloomington Clinic is open to the public and offers chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, massage therapy, naturopathy, and cupping.
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