June is Men’s Health Month and National Men’s Health Week is June 10-16, 2013.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual exams and preventive services than men. OK senior men out there, that's the bad news: we have some catching up to do with the women! Maybe this is part of why the women still often out-live us!
Now for the good news! Did you know the Affordable Care Act provides for an Annual Wellness Visit? This is not a physical exam. Rather it is a meeting with your doctor to plan preventive care strategies to help you avoid becoming ill in the first place. Wow! Back when I was studying psychology, "community psychology" was all the rage as a new concept. It was essentially this--preventing stressors and life-challenges via planning and wellness approaches to mental health. Apparently, what's old is new again.
This men's health month article will help older men to prevent or to spot the signs of these 5 common diseases:
- Heart Disease
- Prostate Cancer
- Cerebrovascular disease (stroke)
- Eye Diseases such as Macular Degeneration
OK, first item for men: heart disease. Unfortunately, men, it kills men and women at about the same rates and is still the number 1 killer in the US.
5 key strategies for preventing heart disease:
- Don't smoke or use tobacco
- Exercise 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week
- Eat a heart healthy diet (low-fat, cholesterol, salt)
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get regular health screenings -- now this is that annual physical!
Yes, we've all heard these before. And, no, many of us don't like them. But, the facts are the facts, so I guess I need to listen, too!
Alright, how about our second topic, prostate cancer? The good news: it is very treatable these days. Here are some signs you should see your doctor:
- Trouble or painful urinating - your doctor will examine your prostate gland to determine whether it is enlarged, inflamed with an infection, or cancerous.
- Chronic pain in your lower back, pelvis, upper thigh bones, or other bones - Pain in these areas can be caused by different things, including the spread of prostate cancer.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Swelling in your legs.
- Weakness in your legs or difficulty walking, especially if you also have constipation.
Third up is cerebrovascular disease (stroke). A research study showed that elderly people often miss the signs of stroke. Here are the top 5 signs, which usually come on fairly suddenly with a stroke:
- Difficulty maintaining your balance such as stumbling, a loss of balance, sudden onset of dizziness or the loss of fine motor skills
- Difficulty communicating verbally including slurs or the inability to understand what you are saying
- Neurological symptoms such as numbness on one side of the body or a sudden stiff neck
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes, for example, having blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, or seeing double
- A sudden severe headache, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness
Fourth is Eye Diseases such as Age-Related Macular Degeneration. While this is typically not a sudden onset disease, the symptoms may sneak up on you slowly and as you adapt to them you might not necessarily recognize them. Therefore, annual eye exams are very important.
- Straight lines begin to appear distorted
- The center of your vision becomes distorted
- Dark, blurry areas in the center of vision
- "White out" areas in the center of vision
- Reduced color perception
Our final disorder is Depression. Men, share this section especially with the women in your life. Depression can be very tricky to identify in oneself. And the symptoms vary widely by individual-since there are some many, I am going to "double your money" and give you 10 symptoms in this section.
One of the key attributes of depression is lack of interest, which often includes a lack of interest in figuring out what is wrong and getting help. That's where others come into play.
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and reduced energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability or restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or actual suicide attempts
While I promised you 5 disorders, I cannot skip the ever-important 6th disease, Alzheimer's Disease. Here are 5 of our blog posts relevant to Alzheimer's:
- Alzheimer's vs. Normal Aging
- Dealing with Common Behaviors in Alzheimer's
- Penn's Cognitive Fitness Program
- Dementia Care: Can you Hear me Now?
- Nutritional Strategies for Dementia Prevention and Care
I know this article seems like a real downer for men's health month, but here is the upper: knowledge is power! Knowing these things can help each of us prevent, recognize, and deal with these disorders if they ever arise!
Happy Men's Health Month!