Health Concerns and Wellness Strategies for Senior Men

Health & Wellness

Posted: June 17, 2021

June is Men’s Health Month and a great time to focus on the health and wellness of senior men.

Health Concerns and Wellness Strategies for Senior Men

Senior men face a unique set of health concerns, among them benign prostate enlargement, prostate cancer and andropause, or low testosterone. While genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors play a role in everyone’s health, men have a higher mortality rate and are 1.5 times more likely than women to die from heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Fortunately, there are simple wellness strategies that men can employ which can lead to a healthier life.

Unique Health Concerns Facing Men

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common causes of death for men are heart disease and cancer, followed by unintentional injuries and other chronic diseases, like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease. Many senior men also experience these unique health concerns:

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) – also called prostate gland enlargement – is a condition common in senior men. An enlarged prostate gland pushes against the urethra and bladder, blocking the flow of urine which can cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems. According to the American Urological Association, about half of men between the ages of 51 and 60 have BPH and up to 90% of men over the age of 80 have it. There are many treatment options, including non-invasive surgical procedures and prescription drugs. Mild cases can be managed through diet and exercise.

Prostate cancer is the second most prevalent cancer among men, only behind skin cancer. Prostate cancer may not present with any signs or symptoms in its early stages, which makes regular screening the key to early detection. In advanced stages, symptoms may include blood in semen, bone pain, trouble urinating, erectile dysfunction (ED) and discomfort or pain in the pelvic area. While prostate cancer is a serious condition facing many older men, it does grow slowly, is not prone to spread, and is easily treatable.

Low Testosterone or andropause is a syndrome associated with a lack of sexual satisfaction, including low libido and ED. Other signs and symptoms include irritability, memory problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue and depression. Testosterone decline affects all men, though not all will experience symptoms. Making healthier lifestyle choices like reducing stress, getting enough sleep and regular exercise can alleviate most symptoms. For those with severe symptoms, hormone replacement therapy is also an option.

Unintentional injuries and falls account for the largest percentage of deaths among older adults. Men are twice as likely to die from an unintentional injury than women, and the most common cause of unintentional injury for men over the age of 60 is a fall. Gender and socialization norms may play a role in the propensity for men to engage in high-risk behaviors including drug and alcohol abuse, dangerous physical activities and working in higher risk industries like the military, mining and firefighting.  Learn how technology can help you stay healthy and reduce your risk of a fall or fracture.

Although senior men face a number of unique health concerns as they age, there are a number of wellness strategies you can employ that can lead to a longer and healthier life.

Don’t Delay Seeing a Doctor

Because men tend to avoid or put off going to the doctor more than women, some diseases aren’t caught until it’s too late for treatment. Some men are reluctant to talk about their health to their doctor out of embarrassment or fear of being judged or hearing bad news. Avoiding the doctor means some life-threatening issues, especially those with silent symptoms, go undetected, resulting in an increased risk of serious health issues or even death.

Routine health screenings are an important part of maintaining health and discovering issues before signs and symptoms are present. For senior men, this includes having an annual physical, which includes screenings for colon cancer through a colonoscopy and a Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) test beginning in your early 50s to screen for prostate cancer. Men aged 65 to 75 who have ever smoked should also have a one-time screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Annual hearing and vision tests, blood pressure checks and labs to measure cholesterol and blood glucose can reduce the chances of a negative health event. It’s important to get the vaccines recommended by your health care provider based on your age, health status and travel plans. Common vaccinations include an annual flu shot, the two-shot pneumonia vaccine, the shingles vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine.

Wellness Strategies for a Healthy Life

Although genetics, lifestyle and environmental factors play a role in everyone’s health, there are several simple wellness strategies you can employ to enjoy a healthier life. In addition to seeing your health care provider regularly, senior men age better if they are non-smokers, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, eat a healthy diet and stay socially connected.

Recent studies suggest that loneliness rivals smoking and obesity as a health risk. Human contact is healthy. At Cappella of Pueblo West, we foster community through volunteer opportunities, board game and karaoke nights, and cozy living rooms that invite a fireside chat. Learn more about the health benefits of community life here.

Here are a few other strategies senior men can take to live healthier lives:

  • Prevent accidents. Many accidents happen at home and can be prevented. Add secure railings and grab bars, make sure floors are clutter free and add more lighting. Make sure to have your vision checked regularly. Sometimes, home is not the safest place to age. It might be time to consider an assisted living community where you can live independently but receive the support and services you need.
  • Exercise your body and your brain. Regular exercise is important for good health no matter your age or gender. As we age, flexibility, mobility and balance can falter. Our brains also change with age. Memory, cognitive function and reaction time are affected. Depression also becomes more common. At Cappella of Pueblo West, our Movement 4 Life Program incorporates four major movements and increased regular activity to reduce the risk of falling and improve mental health. Learn more about Movement 4 Life and incorporate these exercises into your daily routine to increase balance, flexibility and strength.
  • Eat right and drink in moderation. Maintaining a healthy weight and keeping alcohol use to a minimum will help keep your body and mind sharp. Older adults need more vitamin D and calcium to maintain strong bones. The National Institutes of Health recommend 1000 mg of calcium daily for men 51-71 years of age and 600 IU (International Units) of vitamin D up to age 70. Dietary fiber helps keep bowel functions normal and may decrease the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Men over 50 need 30 grams of fiber a day.

In honor of Men’s Health Month, be proactive and employ these wellness strategies to live a longer and healthier life. At Cappella of Pueblo West, our philosophy is to encourage growth, passion and enthusiasm for all of life’s promises and possibilities, regardless of age or individual ability. We want to see senior men and women stay active and social, and live as independently as possible. Read about the 5 Steps of Health Aging for Women.

Learn more about Pueblo West residents and their experiences at Cappella of Pueblo West or contact us for more information.

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