As the month of November rolls along, you may begin to notice more moustaches. That’s because it’s Movember–a month-long grassroots movement to raise awareness about men’s health issues, including mental health, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. By simply growing a moustache, men’s faces become walking billboards touting the importance of men’s health.
Men’s life expectancies are shorter than women’s, currently 77 as opposed to women’s 82. Is it because men’s health issues are swept under the rug? Studies show that men are less likely to call for a doctor’s appointments when they don’t feel well, or schedule routine check-ups, and as a result, fail to benefit from early detection and preventative measures. It seems a long-standing tradition for men to shy away from talking openly about sensitive health issues or to “man-up” and assume things will be just fine.
According to Movember & Sons, the website that promotes Movember, men don’t get regular health checks for these reasons:
- Fear that a regular check-up will lead to a hospital stay
- Discomfort or embarrassment to talk about a health issue
- Busy schedules preventing getting a doctor’s visit on the calendar
- Not wanting to be bothered to make an appointment
These “old-school” presentiments about men’s health have led to a less healthy population of senior citizens. Some of the statistics are frightening. One in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. About a third of the nearly 572,000 cancer deaths will be attributed to preventable issues like obesity, poor nutrition and a lack of physical activity. What can be done?
The Importance of Annual Check-Ups
For men in their 60s and 70s, annual check ups should include the following:
- colorectal cancer screening
- skin cancer screening–keep tabs on your body and tell the doctor if your skin changes
- prostate cancer screening
- blood pressure check
- cholesterol screening
- vision and hearing screenings
- dental check-up
Get Your Immunizations Up To Date
Are your immunizations up to date? The following immunizations are important for men as you age:
- tetanus-diptheria booster if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years
- annual flu vaccination
- shingles/herpes zoster annually after age 60
- pneumococcal vaccine annually after age 65
Know Your Health History
Family history affects your risks for diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The Department of Health and Human Services offers a free online tool called “My Family Health Portrait” which allows you to enter and track necessary information about your health and the health history of your family members. It can be both a useful tool to manage your own health, and a valuable resource for your children and grand-children.
Spreading the word about men’s health issues is not a job only for the younger generations. By promoting the “Mo” movement in senior centers, assisted living centers, and retirement communities, members of those communities can benefit from awareness of men’s health issues, be encouraged to schedule regular check-ups, strike up conversations with the community at large about Movember and begin to tackle statistics that are impacting the overall health of men. Is it working? More than 855,000 people worldwide participated in Movember in 2011. Research specific to Movember’s impact in the U.S. showed that
- 69% of participants had a general check up with their doctor
- 79% discussed their health with friends, family and colleagues
- 70% talked about specific men’s health issues
- 67% recommended that someone else see a doctor
- 43% became more aware and educated about the health risks they face
Movember & Sons provides a place to register and free educational resources about men’s health.