It is Men’s Health Week, and blokes, and their families, need to think and act about their health. What is it that men do, or do not do, that is leading to an early grave? Men, in general, do not like going to the doctor. They don’t feel the need to have a check-up until there is a good reason, which sadly can be too late. Put simply, it is not in the best interests of your health, so get regular check-ups and get to know your GP.
Like most things in life, improving one’s health takes work and awareness. Men can learn a lot from women; they tend to talk more about their health and visit their GP regularly.
- Skin checks. Check your skin regularly for unusual moles or freckles that change size or shape and if you are at high risk have a regular examination by a dermatologist.
- Dental care. Reduce your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss by cleaning and flossing regularly and eating a low sugar diet. Have an annual dental check.
- Testicular examination. Check your testicles for unusual thickenings or lumps. See a doctor if concerned.
- Heart Health. Have your blood pressure checked regularly, and blood tests for cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you have a family history of heart disease tell your doctor.
- Obesity. Being overweight is a significant risk factor so get your doctor to check your BMI (body mass index) and waist measurement.
- Diabetes. If you’re overweight, over 45 and have high blood pressure and a relative with diabetes your doctor may want to have you tested for the disease.
- Being over 55 is a risk factor for diabetes. You can’t change your age but you can reduce other risk factors by not smoking, losing weight, regular exercise and a sensible healthy diet.
- Prostate Cancer. If you’re between 50 and 70 talk to your doctor about a PSA test (prostate specific antigen test)
- Bowel Cancer. Did you know 90% of bowel cancers can be treated successfully if caught early? Participate in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – it is free for 50 to 74 year olds. If there is a family history of bowel cancer, talk to your doctor as you may need a regular colonoscopy.
- Eye Tests. Over 60s should have the eyes tested annually to detect possible glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
- Bone Density. Osteoporosis is more common in women, but it affects men too. If you are over 60 talk to your doctor. A healthy diet, weight bearing and high impact exercise and getting enough Vitamin D all help.
Ita Buttrose is the feature story in the revamped National Seniors magazine, out in the next month.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke asked the new ABC chief how at 77 she managed to have so much healthy energy.
Ita said she would like to see a more proactive approach to ageing and that she is a great believer in preventative health.
“Many of the chronic conditions that affect older Australians are lifestyle ones that we could avoid if we thought about what we did to our bodies, what we ate, what we drank, what we smoked. Did we exercise enough? These are very simple steps and every chronic disease would benefit if we all examined our lifestyle pattern and thought well maybe I could go for a walk every day.”