As we age, the shifting landscape of health concerns can often become more difficult to navigate. This June is Men’s Health Month. With that in mind, it’s important to focus on how aging presents new challenges in men’s healthcare. Especially given that men are more prone to many health issues than women throughout their lives. Though some factors which affect this gender divide are unavoidable, such as differences in hormones and metabolism, there are many ways that men can continue to take good care of themselves later in life.
While women experience a dramatic drop in estrogen during menopause, the hormonal shifts associated with male aging are more gradual. Starting at age 30, male testosterone levels tend to decrease by 1 percent per year.
These changes add up slowly, and the effects shifting hormones have on men’s health are not fully understood. However, there are certain common factors which many men experience as a result of these shifts. Changes in sleep patterns and an increase of insomnia are possible. Other physical changes, such as weight gain and reduced muscle mass, are also common. Sexual dysfunction is another frequent complaint for aging men, and changing hormone levels certainly contribute. Reduced testosterone can even have an effect on mood, leading to depression, loss of energy, and self-confidence.
Age is the top contributing factor to prostate enlargement, which can, in turn, lead to many more serious men’s health issues. Pain in the pelvic area and frequent, difficult, or painful urination can all be signs of potential prostate problems. Of even greater concern is prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in older men and the second-most common cancer in America. The probability of developing prostate cancer increases throughout a man’s life, reaching 13.7 percent between 60 and 79 years. Of all diagnoses of prostate cancer, nearly 60 percent are in men over the age of 65. Fortunately, when diagnosed early, doctors can treat prostate cancer with high rates of success. Yearly checkups are a great way to catch worrying signs early.
Depression: The Silent Epidemic
Depression and self-harm are a serious concern for men. Statistics show that men take their own lives at four times the rate of women. For men over 75, the suicide rate skyrockets 30 percent over any other age group. Chronic conditions are a contributing factor to depression and suicide. And the likelihood of developing such health issues only increases with age. Many people experience grief and a loss of independence as they get older regardless of gender, but men often don’t cope as well as women.
In general, men struggle to express their emotions and lean on social support structures in times of need. As a result, they may experience greater feelings of isolation and depression, which can lead to suicide. It’s especially important for older men to maintain connections with loved ones, caregivers, or friends, and to make an active effort to address depression as soon as possible. Opening up to a doctor or companion can make all the difference.
Though we can’t anticipate all health complications and others are difficult to avoid, many voluntary actions can impact older men. Behaviors such as smoking certainly play a large role, especially given that men are more likely than women to use tobacco products. Men are also more prone to using and overusing alcohol, another potentially dangerous substance whose effects can lead to even more health concerns later in life. Other behavioral factors such as lack of exercise and poor diet can also lead to serious complications, especially given their role in heart disease — a medical issue which accounts for 1 in 4 total male deaths.
While we would all like to believe that our golden years will find us finally unshackled from the stresses of employment and child-rearing, unfortunately, seniors are no more immune to stress than they were early in life. Factors such as health problems, financial difficulties, grief, and lowered independence can all contribute to senior stress. Across all age groups, one in five men reports being under a great deal of stress. That physical and emotional toll can exacerbate many health problems, including heart and digestive issues.
Talk To Your Doctor
Of all the behavioral factors which contribute to men’s health, one of the most important is also one of the simplest: talking to your doctor about your health concerns. Men are 33 percent less likely than women to have seen a doctor in the past year. Research suggests that though men are concerned for their health, they often struggle to a greater degree than women to express their concerns and get treatment early on.
Regular visits to a healthcare provider are important regardless of whether you’re currently experiencing any medical issues. General checkups can help prevent future problems or catch potentially life-threatening diseases early. Furthermore, overcoming apprehension or shame around discussing health questions can ensure that male patients get needed information to maintain healthy habits.
As we get older, it’s even more important to be proactive when it comes to doctor visits. But there are many ways to stay on top of your health outside of the doctor’s office, and Generations Home Care is here to help.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.