Health risks and tips for senior men

It should be no surprise that as we age, our bodies change. Some of the best ways to ease the process of aging are to remain educated, make health and wellness a priority, and understand that treating your body right is imperative to combat common health risks for older adults. It’s never too late to get started.

That being said, it seems as though women’s health is often a more popular topic of discussion over men’s health. According to Men’s Health Network, a lack of awareness, weak health education, and unhealthy work and personal lifestyles have caused a steady deterioration of the wellbeing of North American men. For this reason, in honor of Men’s Health Month, let’s discuss some common health issues to remain mindful of, and some tips on how to stay healthy as an aging male senior. Make sure to visit your family doctor, or a physician, for personalized medical advice.

Heart disease

Heart disease can come in many forms, all of which can lead to serious complications. It’s the second leading cause of death in Canada, with men being twice as likely to suffer a heart attack than women. Early detection of contributing factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Prevention

  • Stay smoke-free, or stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – eat less saturated fat, trans fat, and salty foods, instead choose foods with high fiber, omega-3, and healthy fats (olive oil, canola oil, or fat-free margarine)
  • Limit alcohol intake as much as possible
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your body type
  • Remain physically active, ideally 30-60 minutes at a time

Respiratory conditions

A “smoker’s cough” is a common term, but the underlying health concerns associated with it are not to be taken lightly. This type of chronic cough can indicate a variety of damaging respiratory conditions such as lung cancer, emphysema, or COPD. All of these conditions can interfere with your ability to breathe. Smoking remains the leading cause of respiratory diseases. Positive results can be seen within hours of breaking the habit. 

Prevention

  • Stay smoke-free, or stop smoking
  • Get frequent check-ups for early diagnosis
  • Remain physically active, ideally 30-60 minutes at a time

Prostate Cancer

Cancer can be an unfortunate common denominator in many health conditions. Although, the most frequent type of cancer in older men is that of the prostate. It affects the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. Men who are 55 – 69 should be screened routinely. Half of the men who die from this type of cancer are 80 years of age and older.

Prevention

  • Watch for the symptoms of Prostate Cancer
  • Don’t delay screening, the mid-’50s is recommended
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet – reduce dairy intake and choose more low-fat options, along with fruits and vegetables
  • Maintain a healthy weight for your body type
  • Remain physically active, ideally 30-60 minutes at a time

Diabetes

If left untreated, diabetes can lead to nerve and kidney damage, can be a contributing factor in heart disease and stroke, and even vision problems resulting in blindness. Although, as a society, we are becoming of blood sugar health, this disease is still a burden on a significant amount of older adults. Once diagnosed, the only treatment is the management of not only the disease itself but related health concerns. The two main types are Type 1 and Type 2, the difference being if your body can still produce insulin with assistance, or if it cannot.

Prevention

  • Watch for symptoms of Diabetes
  • Be mindful of your blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels
  • Make healthy food choices and maintain a proper weight
  • Stay smoke-free, or stop smoking
  • Remain physically active, ideally 30-60 minutes at a time

Substance abuse and mental illness

Mental health issues don’t discriminate based on age. In fact, people over 65, particularly men, have the highest suicide rate of any other group. Many factors can lead to a depressed state in which one would consider ending their own life; social isolation, deteriorating health, loss or grief, amongst others. In line with this, substance abuse can become a problem. Men are even more likely to commit such an act after drinking alcohol or can become dependent on the effects of alcohol. Excessive intake of alcohol can also lead to liver disease.

Prevention

  • Get regular exercise, it reduces the risk of depression
  • Write down your thoughts and discuss them with a trusted friend or family member, or seek professional help if this is unavailable
  • If you are concerned about a family member, remove any items or medications that could cause permanent harm from the household and contact a qualified medical expert
  • If needed, call 911 or your local emergency number

Now that you know some of the most common health concerns seen in older men, be proactive in the prevention. Change habits as necessary and speak with your doctor about your health; this article could be a great conversation starter. Addressing these topics can be intimidating, but avoiding them altogether can greatly decrease the chances of early diagnosis and recovery. Retirement living communities can provide various levels of care with the peace of mind knowing someone is always there, assist with medication administration, and provide accommodations for special diets for those living with these conditions, among others – inquire today.

Sources: Health-line, Unlock Food, Center for Suicide Prevention, Heart Disease in Canada, Medical News Today, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mayo Clinic, American Diabetes Association, and A Place for Mom.