Any discussion of men’s health topics should start with the fact that as men, we don’t like to talk about our health. As true as that is for men in their 20s and 30s, it’s even more so for men over 40.
It’s not surprising that older men, especially baby boomers, are the most private when it comes to discussing men’s health issues.
Not only were they more likely to have been raised to “tough things out” on their own, but older age can also bring urinary and erectile dysfunction and other concerns that many men find embarrassing to talk about.
It’s also hard to practice effective preventive health care for men when we simply don’t go to the doctor as we should.
Only half the men in a recent Cleveland Clinic study said they get regular checkups—even though preventive care is free under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And 72 percent said they’d rather do household chores than go to the doctor.
Yet, our 40s and 50s are exactly when we should be working with our doctors to prevent and watch for signs of serious conditions—like prostate and other cancers, heart disease, stroke, etc.—that we may never have considered in our 20s or 30s.
And it’s not just our physical well-being at risk. As we age, we need to continue guarding our mental health against things like depression and loneliness. (Yes, real men get lonely.)
So it’s time to acknowledge reality, and open up to loved ones and our doctors so we can take better control over our health now—instead of waiting until we have fewer options.
Take some positive steps for your health.
Preventive health for men over 40? Absolutely. Sometimes older men think it’s too late to change their health outcomes now that they’ve come this far, but that’s just wrong.
True, aging brings inevitable changes to our bodies and the world around us. But by monitoring our health and being willing to take action to improve and maintain it at every age, the future is not cast in stone.
1. Don’t “ghost” your physician!
Make and keep your appointments for your annual physical and recommended health screenings. Did you know that about 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime? An annual screening can help you catch it early.
2. Talk to your doctor about these things.
Some men’s health issues over 40 may be uncomfortable to discuss but do it—even if you have no symptoms. Ask your doctor what you should know about:
- How your family health history could affect your health
- Erectile dysfunction
- Heart disease
- Blood pressure
- Colon health
- Sleep apnea
- Shingles vaccine
- Prostate cancer
- Testosterone therapy
- Vision and hearing changes
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Sleep problems
3. Follow the directions on your prescriptions.
As many as 60 percent of Americans don’t follow their doctor’s orders on their medications, which can (sometimes significantly) reduce the effectiveness and increase the duration of drug therapy.
So even if you start feeling better, keep taking those antibiotics until they’re gone. Or, if the label says “don’t take with grapefruit” remember it says that for a good reason. And if cost is the issue, don’t try to save money by skipping dosages or splitting pills (or worse, not filling the prescription in the first place).
HINT: You may be able to save money—sometimes a lot—by first checking a prescription pricing transparency tool like RxSaver™. Just enter your prescription and your ZIP code to find the lowest price near you—often, you’ll pay less than you would with your insurance!
4. Be that older guy in the gym—or on the yoga mat.
Maintain your regular workout schedule—or start one (just check with your doctor first). Regular exercise helps replace the muscle mass we lose as we age, and strength training helps offset the natural loss in bone density.
Getting the blood pumping and increasing your flexibility can help keep your body and your mind feeling younger longer—and help prevent falls. But be smart about how you work out—especially if you’re 50 or older.
5. Eat smart(er).
Did you know that a waist measurement greater than 37 inches increases a man’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer? Our metabolism slows as we age, so we need fewer calories, and our nutrition needs change as well.
6. Give yourself the present of presence.
Meditation quiets the noise in your head and helps you be more “in the moment.” It can help control anxiety, relieve stress, increase focus, and improve sleep. These successful men swear by it. There are a number of meditation apps available, and YouTube has loads of free guided meditations.
7. Get outside yourself—with others.
Women seem to have more close friends than men do. And as we age, loneliness can become a significant mental health issue. While making friends as a middle-age man isn’t always easy it’s important to try.
Don’t tackle your health alone.
As we get older, men often think we’ve lived long enough to handle whatever life throws our way without burdening or turning to others for help. Big mistake.
For your physical health, don’t wait for symptoms—get your screenings, talk to your doctor and take action to prevent and detect issues before they become problems. If something troubles your mind—whether from grief, relationships, depression, whatever—talk to someone about it. Don’t try to pretend it’s “no big deal” or under control until it overwhelms you.
Because when it comes to health issues for men over 40, the only real control we have comes from acknowledging that we’re not invincible, accepting the assistance that can help us heal, and taking constructive steps that can actually make a difference to our health today and long into the future.
Larry F. Hill
Larry F. Hill is a freelance strategy consultant and writer who helps national and international clients solve communication and marketing challenges with original concepts and compelling content on a variety of subjects. Larry is a regular contributor to the RxSaver blog.
The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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