Americans are living longer than ever, yet women are still outliving men by about five years.
Research suggests this may be due to men not taking care of themselves as well as women do. For instance, women are much more likely to have a primary health care provider and see a doctor at least annually. Men are also more likely to smoke and drink heavily, which may lead to health issues that can greatly shorten their lives.
In recognition of Men’s Health Month in June, review these 10 tips (or suggest them to the aging man in your life):
- Seek help whenever you’re sick – Prompt medical care can make a huge difference … even saving your life. If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, sudden vision problems, weakness, or other symptoms that may signal a heart attack, stroke or another serious issue, don’t wait!
- Eat right – In later life, you still need to eat healthy foods, although you need fewer calories. The USDA’s website Choose My Plate can help you choose a healthy diet, or talk with your doctor.
- Roll up your sleeve – Get a flu shot every September or October, a shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine once when you’re age 60 or older, a tetanus/diphtheria booster shot every 10 years, and a pneumonia vaccine once after age 65. (Your health care provider also may recommend a pneumonia booster shot every 6 or 7 years.)
- Limit alcohol – Check with your health care provider to make sure that drinking alcohol is okay. For older men, moderate drinking usually is no more than three drinks a day or seven drinks total per week. If you take certain medications, you may need to drink less or not at all.
- Use sunscreen – To avoid skin cancer, use sunscreen all year and, for extras protection, wear a hat or visor when doing yardwork, golfing or enjoying outdoor activities for any length of time.
- Work your mind – Take a free class at the local library, senior center, or community college. Do word puzzles, number puzzles or jigsaw puzzles, or join a book club. Continually challenge your brain with new games and other mental stimulation.
- Exercise – Regular exercise tones up your heart, circulation, and muscles; strengthens bones; boosts brain function; lifts your mood; and can help prevent and ease depression. Be sure to check with your health care provider before staring any new exercise routine.
- Lower your risk of fractures – Talk with your doctor about how to get enough vitamin D. Also, do weight-bearing and bone-building exercises, such as walking, weightlifting and other strength training exercises, even mild exercises just for a few minutes each week.
- Get regular screenings -- Checking for early signs of health problems can help diagnose them early, when they are most treatable. Ask your doctor how often you should screen for: bone health, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, dental health, prostate issues, and skin and colorectal cancer.
- If you smoke, quit! -- Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. It’s never too late to improve lung function.