What’s even more troubling, is that an absence of knowledge on how to reduce the chances of developing serious illnesses is only increasing the risk.
85% of people in the UK know someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis or a stroke.
However, when it came to taking action to reduce the risks of developing an illness, 70% said they had not taken any.
So why is no one taking any action?
A staggering 59% of people said that they didn’t know how to or didn’t think they could do anything when it came to developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
From 2012 to 2014, Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has been the cause of a 16% increase in deaths.
Whilst, cancer was second with 51% of people unaware of they can take steps to decrease risk.
These figures are very worrying considering the percentage of people who know someone with a serious illness.
Those who had been diagnosed or knew someone who had suffered from heart disease were most likely to take action with 55% of people saying they would take action, with only 11% saying that they didn’t know how to.
This has been demonstrated as the deaths caused by disease of the circulatory system between 2012 and 2014 had decreased by 4.1%.
Research has also found that younger people are least likely to take steps to reduce there risk of serious illness, whilst, the older population are more proactive when it comes to improving their health.
GP expert, Trisha Macnair, said:
“There is so much that people can do to stay healthy and help prevent serious illness. And yet, just as this research shows, we find that again and again people don’t take action.”
“They may have a vague idea of a few things they should be addressing, but even if they witness a loved-one battling with illness, this is often still not enough to motivate them to protect themselves.”
“Motivation lies at the heart of this – the motivation to explore health issues and understand what challenges lie ahead, the motivation to find ways to improve your lifestyle.”
“Younger people especially tend to feel invincible and don’t want to dwell on health issues or imagine they might one day develop a chronic illness.”
“They have other more exciting things to focus on so they push health to the back of their mind.”
“People of all ages are reluctant to make the effort to be more active, control unhealthy habits such as alcohol or smoking, or look more carefully at their diet – they put this off until disaster strikes and forces them to rethink. And even then they often don’t. But every little step can make a difference.”
Head of Protection for Royal London Intermediary, Debbie Kennedy, adds:
“Our findings suggest that greater knowledge and understanding would help people take active steps to reduce the risks of developing a serious illness.”
“Among other factors, the findings also show a potential link between people taking action against developing illnesses and the instances of these illnesses falling, making a strong case for the nation to start taking some simple steps to lead a healthier lifestyle.”
Maintaining good health throughout our lives is arguably one of the most important aspects of Financial Planning.
Being in better health, and avoiding major diseases, can dramatically reduce cost burdens, especially during later life.
An investment in our health can outstrip the returns from a pension or ISA, because it saves money in the long-term.
Getting regular exercise, eating well and having quality sleep all contribute towards a happier retirement in the future.