Men’s Health and Wellness: It’s More than Just Physical Health

LifestyleWellness

While June is the month reserved for talking about men’s health, older men need to be focused on their health year-round. According to a long-term study conducted by the MacArthur Foundation, 70% of physical aging, and approximately 50% of mental aging, is determined by the lifestyle choices we make every day. That means what you do is the most important factor in determining aging men’s health and not your genetics.

Health and the older man.

Older men’s health issues are different than those of younger men because they’re less about suffering a traumatic injury — like from playing sports — and are more reflective of the lifestyle choices you’ve made. That’s why it’s important you see your health care provider regularly. Even if you feel perfectly healthy, you should get a yearly checkup.

Below are some common aging men’s health issues along with some health tips for men.

      • Cardiovascular disease: About one-third of adult men have some form of cardiovascular disease, making it one of the most serious health issues.
        Health tip: If you have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about ways you can bring them under control.
      • Prostate cancer: This is the second most common cancer among men. However, prostate cancers grow slowly and are not prone to spread. Early detection is a key factor for diagnosing and defeating prostate cancer.
        Health tip: Get prostate screenings as recommended by your doctor.
      • Other prostate issues: It’s common for older men to develop health issues with their prostate gland, including:
        • Frequent urge to urinate
        • Need to get up many times during the night to urinate
        • Blood in urine or semen
        • Pain or burning urination
        • Painful ejaculation
        • Frequent pain or stiffness in lower back, hips, pelvic or rectal area
        • Dribbling of urine
      • Health tip: If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, see your doctor right away.
      • Lung cancer: This type of cancer mostly occurs in people 65 and older, and 70 is the average age at the time of diagnosis. Lung cancer is so deadly because it can spread quickly and is typically pretty far along before it’s diagnosed.
        Health tip: Tobacco smoke is the cause of 90% of all lung cancers. If you currently smoke, talk with your doctor about available tools for quitting. If you’ve ever smoked, get an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening between ages 65 and 75.
      • Diabetes: Men usually see a doctor for the diabetic symptoms of increased thirst and a need to urinate more frequently. With diabetes, excessive amounts of glucose negatively impact practically everything in your body and complicate many health conditions.
        Health tip: The best thing you can do to prevent or help control Type 2 diabetes is to lose weight and keep it off.

What about men’s mental health?

There are a lot of programs for improving men’s physical health, but what about their mental health? While not often talked about, depression and social isolation are among the most serious of men’s health issues. Unfortunately, depression can be underdiagnosed because men can sometimes misunderstand the signs and find it difficult to ask for help.

With depression, hormones and stress can negatively affect appetite, sleep and energy levels. All this combines to produce feelings of hopelessness, fear and even anger. As a result, men can try to cope with their depression in unhealthy ways like drinking and poor eating habits. The tragic result can even be suicide.

It’s also not unusual for men to have trouble sharing how they feel. But having a better understanding of the importance and benefits of men’s emotional health can help start the conversation about all aspects of their health.

Health tip: If you’re having symptoms of depression, talk with your doctor about possible medications, therapies or activities you can do. You can help prevent depression by spending time and doing things with other people, which can help keep you mentally, physically and emotionally fit. It can also give your brain a boost and lift your mood. So get involved in activities you enjoy: volunteer, join a men’s social club, or participate in other types of groups.

Maintaining your good health.

In addition to regular checkups, here are some other suggestions to ensure you protect your health:

  • Take as directed: Whatever medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re taking, be sure you’re following the dosage instructions. To check for possible harmful drug and supplement interactions, bring a complete list of whatever you’re taking, the dosage, and how often you take them when you visit your provider. Your list should include all prescribed and nonprescribed medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements.
  • Get your shots: Check with your health care provider to make sure you’re getting:
    A flu shot every year in September or October before the flu season starts.
    The shingles vaccine after turning 60.
    A combination of tetanus/diphtheria booster shot every 10 years.
    Pneumonia vaccination after age 65.
  • Use sunscreen: As you age, your skin is more susceptible to sun damage, which increases the risk of skin cancer. Use sunscreen year-round and wear a wide-brimmed hat for added protection.
  • Reduce fall and fracture risks: Be sure to get plenty of bone-healthy calcium and vitamin D daily. Weightlifting and other strength training exercises are also good for your bones.
  • Exercise your brain: Challenge your brain by trying new things. Join a book or discussion club, sign up for a class, do different types of puzzles, learn to play a musical instrument, etc.
  • Get moving: Regular exercise helps you reach and maintain a healthy weight and also tones up your heart, circulation and muscles. Plus exercise strengthens bones, boosts brain function, lifts your mood, and can help prevent and ease depression.

Ready to make a healthy lifestyle change?

When it comes to older men’s health issues, it can be hard to know where to start. It’s possible to change your lifestyle by pursuing your fitness goals, staying socially active and preparing nutritious meals. But it can be difficult to stay motivated when you’re doing it on your own. While it may seem overwhelming at first, making a move to one of your area’s senior living communities can make a world of difference.

Senior living communities offer nutritious chef-prepared meals, monthly calendars full of fitness and art classes, happy hours, outings, events, and resident committees and clubs right outside your door. Some communities even have walk-in health clinics on-site, and most offer higher levels of care if you ever need it.

To search thousands of communities, use our Where You Live Matters community finder. It’s a great place to start learning how communities near you take a holistic approach to wellness.

Sources:
MacArthur Foundation
CDC