Every now and then, Dad expresses wonder that he has lived to be 86 years old. “I always thought your mother would outlive me,” he exclaimed recently. “And I’ve lived longer than my father did.”
And I just broke the news to him that he has actually exceeded the average life expectancy for men in the United States. That number is approximately 75 years of age, and that is lower than the life expectancy of U.S. women, which is over 80 years.
Why the difference between the genders? The American Geriatric Society (AGS) suggests that this gap may be due to men’s tendency to not take care of themselves.
Checkups, tests and tips for older men
To help older men do a better job of self-care, the AGS Foundation for Health in Aging has developed the following recommendations. The AGS document titled “For Men: Tips for Good Health in Later Life” speaks to older males, but caregivers can also find helpful advice here for keeping their loved ones healthy:
- Get regular checkups, even when feeling healthy.
- Call or see the doctor when ill.
- Ask your doctor to approve all medications, vitamins and supplements. AGS notes that by living longer and taking more medications, elders are more likely to experience some side effects. Health care providers should check all pills to make sure they’re safe for you to take and that there is no risk of drug interactions.
- Stay current on shots, including the flu shot, pneumonia vaccination, tetanus/diphtheria booster and shingles vaccine.
- Use sunscreen.
- Focus on bone health. Take calcium and vitamin D supplements daily and do weight-bearing exercises. Men who have fallen in the past should find out about exercise programs for strength, balance, flexibility and stretching.
- Stop smoking.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Stay physically active.
- Get mental stimulation through trying new things, participating in classes or joining a book group.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Spend time and do things with others.
- Seek out regular checkups, for example, for hearing, vision and dental health. Ask about screenings for abdominal aortic aneurysm, bone health, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, prostate, colorectal cancer, depression and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, older men should discuss any sexual concerns, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), with their doctor; the AGS explains that this treatable condition may also be an early warning sign of heart and artery disease.
These common-sense recommendations can help older men increase not only their lifespan, but their quality of life. So I’m handing this list to Dad with the hopes that he’ll aim for another decade of good health!Posted in Caregiving, Health | 2 Comments »
Tags: Caregiving, Health