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Talking ‘Bout My (Your) Generation

I’ve been speaking regularly over the past year to registered dietitian diabetes educators and nutritionists at conferences about how our patients’ ages – their generation – can influence how we can most effectively communicate information and inspire lifestyle change. My presentation title, and the title of this post, is from the 1965 song “My Generation” by the iconic ‘60’s band The Who. I always get a good laugh when I ask my audience if they think the now 74-year-old singer Roger Daltrey cringes when he sings the lyric, “I hope I die before I get old.”

Looking at some broad common traits of different generations can be very helpful to healthcare providers. And, even though it’s true that everyone is different, it’s also true that people sharing the same history tend to share a lot of common attitudes and beliefs. So, I thought I might briefly turn my approach backward, and talk to you (the “patient”) about how your generation might influence your approach to diabetes and diabetes self-management. After all, you have every right to ask healthcare providers to communicate with you in a way that’s most effective to you. See if you have an “aha!” moment like I did about how I manage my diabetes (based on the generation I am from and when I was diagnosed).

Silent Generation – born 1928-1945

This generation is characterized by loyalty, duty, delayed gratification, work ethic and personal sacrifice. They appreciate expert testimonials, taking time to make decisions, connecting with groups, and detailed directions on how to do something. People in this generation sometimes find it difficult to question the “authority” of doctors and healthcare providers about treatment options, for example. If you’re in this generation you may benefit greatly by joining a support group.

Baby Boomers – born 1946-1964

This generation is characterized by idealism, optimism, a focus on self (the “me” generation) and wanting to leave their mark. Baby boomers see themselves as ageless – evolving rather than aging. They appreciate knowing the big picture, having new experiences, evaluating choices, focusing on the future, and achieving goals. If you’re in this generation you will benefit greatly by understanding and seeing in your own lab data how dramatically healthy lifestyle changes can improve your health – you need enthusiasm about diabetes management from your provider.

Generation X – born 1965-1980

This generation is characterized by skepticism, self-reliance, and work/life balance. They appreciate connection to peers (electronically), and dislike meetings and phone conversations. They appreciate suggestions rather than orders, quality, images and graphics, involving friends in decision-making, getting straight to the point and trust. If you’re in this generation and frustrated with your health care, don’t give up. Diabetes self-management is the perfect “venue” for practicing self-reliance, no meetings required.

The difference in generations is very interesting to the practitioners I’ve spoken to, but I hope you find this interesting as well. More importantly, I hope you’ll find this useful in your daily competition with diabetes.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.