June is a big month for dads! Of course, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday, June 19th, but it’s also Men’s Health Month. And while we believe that we should always be thinking about our health, especially as we age, many of us don’t and men in particular. June is a time to raise awareness about the health conditions and issues that affect men and encourage them to get checked.
Most of us know that life expectancy for men is less than for women…by about 5 years. With all the advancements we’ve made in medicine, why is this still the case? The truth is no one knows for sure, but one of the leading theories is that men simply don’t take care of themselves as well. As long as you feel okay, there is no reason to see the doctor, right?
Wrong! Older men in particular should get regular checkups with their doctors. Here are three common health issues senior men face:
1. Cardiovascular Disease
Men are twice as likely as women to suffer a heart attack and are diagnosed with heart disease about 10 years younger than women. It’s the second-highest cause of death among Canadians, but one that is preventable and treatable if managed early. While there are many risk factors for cardiovascular disease, lifestyle plays a major role. Uncontrolled diabetes and obesity are key risk factors, making regular exercise and a healthy diet important in the prevention and management of heart disease.
What you can do:
- Get an annual physical
- Exercise regularly - here are some great tips for older adults
- Make healthier food choices
- Stop smoking
2. Prostate Cancer
One of the most common cancers in men, prostate cancer affects approximately one in nine Canadian men and is one of the least preventable. That’s why it is so important to get regular checkups, especially for men over 50 where the majority of cases occur. With early detection, the survival rate is nearly 100%.
Risk factors include
- Family history, especially father or brother
- Race or cultural background - more common in Black men
- Inherited gene mutations
3. Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body cannot make enough insulin or properly use it to control the sugar in your blood. Unlike Type 1, which is an autoimmune disease, Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by lifestyle and weight. As we age, we may become less active leading to weight gain and even obesity. Combine this with a poor diet (does dad have a sweet tooth?) and your risk of diabetes increases significantly. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to other serious issues, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Signs to look for
- Excess thirst
- Frequent urination
- Weight change
- Extreme fatigue or low energy
- Blurred vision
- Frequent infections or cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
As we age, we need to pay more attention to our overall health. And for men who are notoriously bad at this, a few gentle reminders and help from family can go a long way in ensuring dad has a long and healthy life.
Make sure he’s getting his annual checkup. Accompany him to the grocery store and lead him to better food choices. Go for walks together and encourage him to keep active. And most of all, be observant of any changes in his health or demeanour that might signal something is wrong.
As we look forward to celebrating dad this Father’s Day, let him know you’re thinking about him by checking in on his health.