Most guys find it easy to discuss sports, vent about work or deliberate current events. But talk about their health? Nope, that’s not happening, well, at least not for the majority of men, reports a Cleveland Clinic men’s health survey of 500 men ages 18 to 70. The national telephone survey found that 53 percent of men do not talk about their health, and 60 percent resist seeing a doctor and only go for a checkup if a health problem or symptoms become too painful and troublesome. Some 20 percent of the male respondents said they would only go to the doctor to appease a nagging spouse or significant other. The survey also determined that men ages 52 to 70 are the most tight-lipped about their health.
“Senior men tend to downplay their medical concerns and often put off important health screenings,” said Cathy Queen, RN, Owner Right at Home of the Rivercities. “But avoidance can lead to a domino effect of more serious health problems.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks these serious and chronic medical conditions and tabulates what leads to people’s deaths. For all U.S. men, the top 10 causes of death are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries (accidents), chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes, suicide, Alzheimer’s disease, influenza and pneumonia, and kidney disease.
The CDC also reports that of non-institutionalized men, nearly 64 percent who are ages 65 to 74 have high blood pressure, and almost three-fourths age 75 and older have high blood pressure. The National Institutes of Health finds that compared to women, men are also more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and make fewer healthy choices.
Take Charge of Your Health
So what can guys do to be more proactive about their health? Queen recommends a number of steps for men to consider to safeguard their overall health, especially as they reach their 60s and beyond. Adopting a few healthy lifestyle choices can significantly lower the risk for the common conditions that limit men’s health and longevity:
• See a doctor for regular checkups. Even if you feel fine, it is still important to schedule at least an annual physical to stay ahead of diseases and conditions that do not always have symptoms. The doctor can help you stay current with immunizations, screenings and medications. If something is seriously wrong, do not put off seeing a doctor. Early detection can be life-saving.
• Get the appropriate screening tests. Taking the right screening tests at the right time goes a long way toward the prevention and detection of diseases. The following is a guideline for screening tests for men:
Prostate cancer — A digital rectal exam by a physician is recommended, and possibly a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. For healthy men, discussions with one’s doctor should begin at age 50 for average-risk men and at age 40 for men with a strong family history of prostate cancer.
Colorectal cancer — Colorectal cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer death. Screening for average-risk men should begin at age 50. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer are advised to start with colonoscopies earlier and get the test more frequently.
Testicular cancer — Most cases of this uncommon cancer develop in men between ages 20 and 54. Regular self-exams and a screening during a routine physical are recommended.
Skin cancer — The health experts at WebMD.com report that older men are twice as likely as women of the same age to develop melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology and the American Cancer Society recommend routine skin self-exams typically beginning by young adulthood. Plus, skin screenings should be a part of routine checkups by a dermatologist or health professional.
Diabetes — One-third of Americans do not know they have diabetes. Diabetes that is not controlled can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, impotence and blindness. Healthy adults should have a screening for diabetes every three years starting at age 45. Those at higher risk should be tested more frequently.
High blood pressure — The likelihood of high blood pressures increases with age, excess weight and poor dietary choices. Hypertension is treatable, and those with higher blood pressure levels can learn to check their numbers regularly at home.
High cholesterol — Men who are at increased risk for heart disease should start regular screenings at age 20 for LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (blood fat). At age 35, men should get a regular screening for cholesterol levels.
Glaucoma — Certain eye diseases can damage the optic nerve and lead to blindness. Your eye doctor can oversee your risk for glaucoma and other eye conditions, but a general rule for glaucoma screening is:
– Under age 40: every 2-4 years
– 40-54: every 1-3 years
– 55-64: every 1-2 years
– 65 and up: every 6 to 12 months
• Keep active and eat healthy. Here are questions men can ask themselves: What is a healthy weight for me? Are there foods I need to avoid for any health conditions? Are there any foods I need to add to my diet? How much exercise is best for my age and fitness level?
• Stop smoking. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration finds that men who smoke are 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers. Smoking decreases a man’s life expectancy by at least a decade. Males who smoke or use other tobacco products are encouraged to talk to their doctor about quitting.
• Go easy on alcohol. The CDC notes that 23 percent of adult men binge drink five times a month, averaging eight drinks per binge. Men consistently face higher rates of hospitalizations and alcohol-related deaths than women. If a male chooses to drink, moderation is key. Health professionals recommend limiting consumption to one drink a day for men over age 65 (e.g., 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1½ fluid ounces of standard 80-proof liquor). Up to two drinks per day is the limit for men age 65 and younger.
• Stay safe on the road. Automobile accidents are a primary cause of death among men. Wearing a seatbelt, following speed limits, and avoiding driving while sleepy or intoxicated helps saves countless lives.
• Manage stress. While some may view stress as a nebulous factor in everyday life, feeling constantly under pressure or anxious takes a toll on the immune system. Coping with stress is an individual experience, but common symptoms of stress for men include chest pain, shortness of breath, muscle pain, indigestion and high blood pressure. Stress reducers include exercise, mindfulness practices, meditation and setting personal boundaries.
Financial Options and Resources
For men who reason that they can’t afford to see a doctor, many health insurance companies provide free annual checkups and some screening tests. For senior males, Medicare Part B medical insurance covers a number of preventive and screening services for such conditions as colorectal cancer, depression, diabetes, glaucoma and prostate cancer, as well as immunizations for flu, hepatitis B and pneumococcal infections.
Queen encourages men of all ages to take advantage of local, nationwide and online health resources including the following:
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Information Center https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic, 301-504-5755
Men’s Health Network http://www.menshealthnetwork.org,
202-543-MHN-1 (6461) ext. 101
Men’s Health Resource Center http://www.menshealthresourcecenter.com/health-topics/
National Institutes of Health (NIH) https://nccih.nih.gov/health/mens-health, 1-888-644-6226
National Institute on Aging https://www.nia.nih.gov/health, 1-888-644-6226
Mayo Clinics https://www.mayoclinic.org, Arizona: 480-301-8000; Florida: 904-953-2000; Minnesota: 507-284-2511
About Right at Home of the Rivercities.
The Rivercities office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, LLC, serving the communities of the Tri-State going on 10 years. We directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff, each of whom is thoroughly screened, trained, and bonded/insured prior to entering a client’s home. Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care and assistance to seniors and adults with a disability who want to continue to live independently.
For more information, contact Right at Home of the Rivercities at www.rahrivercities.com, 1-866-453-2128 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org For more information on Right at Home, visit About Right at Home at http://www.rightathome.net/about-us or read the Right at Home caregiving blog at http://www.rightathome.net/blog. To sign up for Right at Home’s free adult caregiving e-newsletter, Caring Right at Home, visit http://caringnews.com