This post was reviewed by our Director of Clinical Excellence and Oversight.
If you’re a man over the age of 50 and you are in good health, good genes and good luck likely played a part in helping you get there. As you age, genes and luck become less important. Now that you’re an older adult, it’s time to think about the actions you can take to avoid risk and address concerns before they become serious complications.
While the prospect of making significant changes to diet and activity levels may seem unappealing, there are easy steps that men over 50 can take to improve their health trajectory. In fact, even with their usual career and family duties, many older men are finding the time—and the passion—to live their best, healthiest lives.
The Doctor is In
We’ve heard it countless times: most guys will do almost anything to avoid the doctor’s office! The Cleveland Clinic survey showed only half the men questioned would consider getting an annual check-up. And (ladies, get this) more than 70% said they’d rather do household chores than see the doctor! Even more problematic, once at the appointment, many guys aren’t forthcoming about their health concerns.
While both men and women may not like going to the doctor, having a partner who is actively avoiding talking to a health professional can be frustrating. It can also be dangerous because a small problem can turn into a big one if left untreated. Luckily, a little effort will help you or someone you love stay well and live their best life.
The Captain of Your Ship
With modest lifestyle changes, fellows in their 50s and beyond can be as fit and healthy as younger men. Sure, it takes a little effort, but so does perfecting a golf swing!
Food as medicine, food as fuel. The right diet can actually reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer, while keeping your weight in check. What does that diet look like? Lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein like chicken, fish, eggs, and tofu. And less added sugar, alcohol, and saturated fats.
Just move it. It may have been a while since you dribbled a ball or swung a bat, but your inner athlete is in there and he wants out! Get back to exercise, with your doctor’s OK, of course. You need cardio (aerobic) exercise to get your heart going, and strength training to build muscle. Set a goal or exercise with a buddy to keep yourself honest.
Get a handle on your habits. First, stop smoking. It’s never too late to quit. As soon as you put down that last cigar or cigarette, your body begins to repair smoking-related damage. Long-term, quitting reduces the chance for heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. If you use recreational drugs it’s time to stop! Also, be mindful about alcohol—limit yourself to two drinks a day.
Now, About that Doctor’s Appointment…
Improving diet, exercise, and habits can do a lot to keep 50+ men healthy. But self-care should be balanced with professional support—yep, the “D” word. Health screenings and regular checkups with your doctor or healthcare provider help identify diseases early when they can be better controlled.
Here are some recommended health screenings for men over the age of 50:
Cholesterol. A high level of cholesterol in your blood increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. That’s why men over 35 should get their cholesterol checked regularly. The recommended age is even lower for those who have had a heart attack, are obese, or have diabetes or high blood pressure.
Blood pressure. Checking BP is easy and non-invasive. It’s important because high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases.
Diabetes. Men 44 and older should be checked for diabetes every three years. Your provider may also test you if you are overweight (body mass index, or BMI, over 25). If your doctor wants you to regularly test your blood glucose (sugar) level at home, HCD can help.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm. This imaging test looks for a potentially lethal tear or other problem with the aorta, the main blood vessel supplying the rest of the body. Often, aortic aneurysms are only found during an examination for something else. Men 65-75 who have smoked should have a one-time abdominal aortic aneurysm screen. Even if you haven’t smoked, ask your doctor if you should be tested.
Prostate cancer. Perhaps you’ve heard about the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test for early prostate cancer. Men over 50 should discuss a PSA test with their doctor. African-Americans should have that conversation even earlier, as they are at higher risk.
Colon (colorectal) cancer. If you’ve seen 50 candles on a cake, you should have had a colon cancer screening, and those with family history should be tested even before. A number of tests are available; the most common is the colonoscopy, typically repeated every 10 years.
Emotional health. It can be hard for men to say “I need help” when facing an emotional challenge. Depression, anxiety, loss, and stress are common in men over 50 and can actually make you sick. You may find it useful to talk with your healthcare provider, a clergy person, or a close friend. Get professional help if you need it!
Get Smart About this Health Stuff
There are so many small things older guys can do to stay in great health. From applying sunscreen to working out, eating less red meat to getting regular check ups, think about how you’d like to feel in 10 years and take small steps now to ensure you feel that way later.
The best strategy for long-term health is a partnership with your healthcare provider. Do all you can to take care of the one and only you. And when you do visit your doctor, be honest about what’s going on. Stay healthy for the people who care about you… and for yourself!
Let HCD Do the Rest
If you need medical supplies for diabetes, urology, ostomy, incontinence, or wound care, HCD can help. Our knowledgeable customer care representatives can answer your questions about insurance coverage and supplies can be shipped right to your door. Best of all, we handle all the paperwork. Let us give you a call by entering your phone number on the bottom left of the screen. We are eager to help, call us, or enroll online today.