June is Men’s Health Month across the country, and is meant to bring awareness to the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, detecting problems early so that they can be treated, and increasing longevity (men, on average, still live approximately six years less than women).
With better screening, several predominantly male-related health problems, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and colon cancer can be greatly reduced.
Men’s Health Week is celebrated during the week leading up to and including Father’s Day (this year, June 10 to 16). That’s no accident, given that the people who make most health decisions for men are the women who love them. So, part of the awareness campaign is certainly designed to encourage participation by loved ones, who can help by supporting and reinforcing better lifestyle choices on the part of the men in their lives.
The first year that Men’s Health Week was declared, Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994) said, “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”
The Men’s Health Network is operating a social media campaign in conjunction with its other activities, and there are some wonderful, easy-to-adopt suggestions that it wants men to take heed of. For example, the network is asking people to post messages such as this to their Facebook pages: “Man up and take charge of your health! Eat healthy. Get moving. Schedule a doctor’s appointment. Make prevention your priority.”
We all know men who avoid those doctor’s appointments. Maybe they would reconsider if they found a message on their timeline from a loving daughter, or a concerned wife, along with an “I love you” for Father’s Day.
This plea could be posted by a favorite grandson: “Men’s Health Month calls for some serious action! Play with your grandkids. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do yard work. Play a sport. Keep comfortable walking shoes handy at work and in the car. Most importantly, choose activities that you enjoy to stay motivated. Anyone can be unhealthy, but it takes a man to take charge of his health and get moving!”
Perhaps the most important reason for any father or grandfather to make an appointment for that checkup is to set a good example for his children or grandchildren. No matter how much a man hates to visit the doctor, most will admit that they want their families to do so. Nothing is more powerful than a role model!
Men’s Health Network has a convenient schedule of checkups and age-appropriate screening tests for both men and women on their website: http://bit.ly/Zua3xZ
There’s also a link to a Handy Prostate Health Guide (http://www.prostatehealthguide.com/). About 50 percent of men age 60 and older have some symptoms of an enlarged prostate. By the time they’re in their 70s that goes up to about 90 percent.
Make that appointment, gentlemen! After all, you want to be around next year on Father’s Day to “ooh and aah” over that beautiful silk tie … or at least to hug those family members who wanted you to get the checkup that might just save your life.
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.