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Why is “wellness” “corporate”?

by Louis on March 6, 2013

This Washington Post article and a recent Kojo Nnamdi talk show has me thinking about methods and benefits of “wellness”. Wellness includes pro-active health screening to catch problems before they grow serious and raising awareness but key elements are usually what most of us call exercise. Employers are strong adopters because wellness has the bottom line benefit of saving health dollars, reducing work absenteeism and improving morale. Successful wellness programs often  include cash or gift incentives and use competition to engage participants. But the real bottom line is better health. Shouldn’t that be every individual’s interest?

Senior Centers feature wellness as a staple of their programs. Nintendo’s Wii electronic game has engaged older folks in movement and competition.

Microsoft partners with senior centers for X-box competitions improving social and physical engagement.

This all begs the question of how to motivate more seniors to improve their own health? Can it be just because it means better health? Older folks are a growing share of the population and the most expensive health care segment. We need to incentivize them for their benefit and the health care system’s benefit. It should be about feeling better, living better, enjoying life more… as well as saving healthcare dollars.

I am interested because I don’t know how to motivate people to prepare their homes either. That has more cost and less clear benefit but is really important as well. We need to learn this stuff faster. And implement it better.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerri Locke March 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Our company has done a pretty good job with improving the overall health, as evidenced in improvement on annual biometric screenings, by offering discount on health insurance. For those who have been identified as “at risk” additional supports were put into place, including requirements of meeting quarterly goals showing improvement in the “at risk” behaviors. You can also receive a discount on gym memberships and weight loss programs, if that fills the need for reaching your goals. If you meet your goals, you are given a deeper discount on health insurance. I’m a member of the “at risk” group and can testify that discount has kept me motivated to achieve my goals, not to the level I would like, but enough to keep the discounts.


Rusty Toler March 9, 2013 at 12:19 pm


You are absolutely on target here. Poor health is an issue for all ages The increased disability incidence rate is a significant factor in the “gap” in Social Security income vs. outgo. Addressing “wellness inequality ” needs as much attention as addressing income inequality ” in terms of our future retirement security.


Amy Blitchok April 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm

It is interesting that despite how much we know about the benefits of exercise and a healthy diet, it is still difficult to motivate people of all ages, not just seniors, to be more proactive about their health. If this knowledge and the occasional scolding from a doctor isn’t enough to get seniors moving, what will? Research shows that technology might be the answer. Your post mentions video game systems as helpful tools; I would also add other monitoring devices to that list. New products that track blood pressure, glucose levels, and heart rhythms are proving to make seniors feel more engaged and empowered when it comes to their health care. Being more aware of health issues might be the first step in motivating seniors to be more physically active. What are your thoughts on these types of monitoring systems? Do you use them in your aging in place work and what results have you noticed?


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