Posted: June 17, 2021
June is Men’s Health Month and a great time to focus on the health and wellness of 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.
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. This is why fall prevention is a vital practice for older men. 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.
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.
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:
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.