There are over 70 million fathers in the United States according to the latest available data. With Father’s Day just around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity to talk to that special man in your life about taking care of his health. We talk often on this site about how your health is your greatest asset. That’s true of both men and women, but compared to women, men are more likely to: smoke and drink, make unhealthy or risky choices and put off regular checkups and medical care. Men have other health issues as well, so in the spirit of being a woman and feeling the need to improve men everywhere, here are some suggestions. (Think you already are up to speed on male health, take this health quiz to see.)
Approximately 3 million American men have some sort of prostrate disease. The prostate slowly increases in size as you age. That increase can cause problems from benign prostatic hyperplasia (difficulty urinating) to prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate)to prostate cancer. By the time men reach age 85, about 90 percent of men have benign prostatic hyperplasia and almost half of men over the age of 70 probably have prostate cancer.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 found that 75 percent of men between the ages of 57 and 85 thought that sex was important. The percentage of sexually active older adults closely matched the percentage of their much younger counterparts. The need to protect yourself during intercourse and get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases doesn’t magically disappear with age. In addition, health conditions may affect your ability to enjoy a satisfying and fulfilling sex life. The prevalence of ED is the most prevalent sexual difficulty for men especially as the reach age 70 or older. It’s important to report sexual problems to your healthcare provider because treatment can help.
The National Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. A regular annual checkup and being attentive to skin changes are the best defense against skin cancer. As we age, our skin becomes more susceptible to damage. Use sunscreen year round and wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin. As you age, your teeth take a beating. Older people produce less saliva, gums shrink and it may become difficult due to vision or physical problems to floss or brush effectively. Poor dental problems often result in poor nutrition especially in older men. People think that losing teeth is a normal part of aging but in fact it is not. Decay and gum disease cause teeth to fall out.
Being socially active improves mental, physical and emotional health. Socially active older adults tend to live longer. One study found that the most socially isolated men had about a 62 percent greater mortality risk compared to those who were not isolated. Despite jokes to the contrary, married men live longer than single men. Men who are actively engaged in religious functions live longer than those who do not.
To start improving your health, start by checking with your doctor about which screening tests you need this year.
Additional resources on men’s health.