Staying proactive about your health is crucial to making the most of your golden years. Unfortunately, recent data suggests that many older men struggle to open up about their health concerns — and that results in poorer health outcomes. The good news is that family and in-home caregivers can help bridge the men’s health gap, but starting those conversations can be easier said than done.
Here’s what you need to know about the health issues men face as they age and the best ways to discuss these issues.
Let’s Talk About Men’s Health
Open communication is one of the most essential parts of maintaining a positive health outlook. However, many men struggle to open up about their health concerns at all. A recent study showed that 53 percent of men don’t discuss their health, and 42 percent wait until they’ve had a close call before discussing health concerns with their peers or loved ones. Another survey found that only half of men get regular health check-ups, and 72 percent would rather clean the bathroom or complete other tedious chores than see a doctor. While older men are more likely to make it in for their annual physicals, this lack of preventative care can negatively affect men’s health outlooks later in life. Perhaps worst of all, only 42 percent of men will go to the doctor when they fear they have a severe medical condition.
This reluctance to address potential health issues can create a self-perpetuating cycle. As men hesitate to talk about their health concerns or see a doctor for regular check-ups, they’re more likely to let serious problems worsen without addressing them in a timely fashion.
In addition, many men are more likely to open up to a spouse or significant other when broaching the topic of a health concern. But many older men may live alone, without a significant other to talk to about their health. When you consider that only 12 percent of men would turn to a doctor first about a health issue, isolation becomes an even more serious factor.
Sadly, one-fifth of men reported that they do not discuss private topics such as their health with anyone at all. But when older men keep their health concerns to themselves, it’s far more likely they won’t get the care they need.
Unique Concerns for Aging Men
Many health issues are of particular concern for older men. These issues can seriously impact a person’s quality of life and restrict their independence if left untreated.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for adult men and women in the United States. In fact, nearly a third of all adult men have some form of heart disease. Plus, men are more likely to develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than women, which puts them at a greater risk of adverse outcomes when they’re younger. Heart disease causes the deaths of over 350,000 men per year.
High Blood Pressure
For men over 75, high blood pressure is the most common heart condition. Also known as hypertension, unmanaged high blood pressure can lead to various issues, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death for men in the US, and 75 percent of strokes occur in men over 65. Healthy lifestyle choices are a great way to reduce risk factors, but men are still more likely than women to suffer a stroke.
Talking About Health Issues With Older Men: Tips for Family and Caregivers
When opening a discussion with senior men about their health, it can be hard to know how to get started. Because many men are so reluctant to discuss their health, this conversation must often be approached with sensitivity. If you’re providing care for an older man, here are a few tips on how to start the talk.
Focus on the Facts
By relying on factual information, you can make the conversation feel more generalized and less personal. This can help people feel less defensive and more open to discussing health issues when framed in more universal terms. In addition, information on specific risk factors can help emphasize the importance of open communication about health issues without relying on guilt.
One of the quickest ways to make a person clam up during a difficult conversation is to make them feel defensive or upset. It’s easy to inadvertently make someone feel like they’re being criticized, which can often shut the discussion down. To avoid this barrier, try using more “I” statements rather than “you” statements when raising your concerns. Avoid comments like “You don’t go to the doctor enough.” Instead, try something like “I’m concerned about your health. When was the last time you had a check-up?”
Discussions Go Two-Ways
A crucial part of talking to older men about their health is to treat it as a collaboration, not a lecture. Asking your client or loved one questions and getting their side of the story is absolutely critical to a productive discussion. If he has concerns about barriers to getting better care, help him voice them so you can both figure out some potential solutions.
Partner With an In-Home Caregiver
Having someone you trust to open up to isn’t just important for your happiness and mental well-being; it can also make a big difference in your physical health. Older men living at home must have a support system to discuss their concerns about aging in an understanding and safe environment.
With the barriers men face in keeping communication channels open, an in-home caregiver can be a great resource. As a trusted companion, they’re situated to discuss any new concerns a client might have about mental or physical health. They can also provide a great stepping stone to a doctor’s visit, assisting with connections to care and providing transportation and support. No matter how much care your loved one needs, an in-home caregiver can be a partner in maintaining his health.
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.