Show the men in your life - your husband, father, son and friend - how much you care. Encourage them to go to the doctor and get early diagnosis and treatment for diseases and injuries. You may not want to nag him. He may not thank you, at first, but the life you save may be his.
On average, men are less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than women, and that disparity is growing. In 1920, women outlived men by an average of one year. Today, even with advances in medical research and technologies, that difference is more than five years.
Part of the reason for this health gap is that men generally do not take as good care of themselves as women do. They are less likely than women to adopt preventive health measures, such as a healthy diet or exercise and often put off going to the doctor, even when they really should go. Men are half as likely to visit a doctor for a check-up as women are and there are more than seven million American men who haven’t seen a doctor in more than 10 years, according to the Men’s Health Network.
Men die younger - and in greater numbers - of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and many other diseases. More than half of these premature deaths are preventable, along with about 60 percent of chronic diseases, but only if men know they are at risk and take the necessary steps to treat and control these conditions.
Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, men’s health truly is a family matter. Because women live longer than men, they see the men in their lives suffer or die prematurely. According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, more than half of the elderly widows now living in poverty were not poor before the death of their husbands.
By learning about potential health problems and passing that information on to the men you love, you may be able to save a life. The Men’s Health Network lists these symptoms any man should watch for:
• Changes in bowel or bladder habits, which can indicate prostate or bladder problems. Blood in the urine is a common indicator of kidney problems.
• Impotence or erectile dysfunction, which usually are caused by a health problem, such as diabetes, clogged arteries or high blood pressure.
• Unexplained pains, changes and other symptoms, such as persistent backaches, obvious changes in warts or moles, unusual lumps, recurrent chest pains or headaches, bleeding that won’t stop, nagging cough, unexplained weight loss and extreme fatigue can all be symptoms of other serious health problems.
Signs of depression, which may include acting overly anxious, having trouble sleeping, complaining of feeling sad or helpless, engaging in unusually risky or reckless behavior or losing interest in hobbies or other pleasurable activities.
These issues are sometimes difficult to discuss, but men need to understand that even the smallest symptom could indicate a more serious, or even life-threatening, condition. By encouraging all the men in your life to discuss their health with their doctors, you’ll be helping them take a more active role in their own health care.
The goal is to get your husband, father, brother or son to take better care of himself and to get the next generation of men to start building good habits. These things sometimes take time, but even the smallest changes can bring big rewards.