If you’re a man over 60, chances are you focus less on your own health than the women around you.
In countries such as Australia, older men are less likely to speak to a doctor when they come across a problem with their bodies.
Better Health Victoria suggests there’s a number of reasons why this is the case.
For some of us, it can be seen as less masculine to seek help. Others feel as though they’re invincible and that they can make themselves better without the help of doctors. Then there are those of us who simply avoid seeing a doctor because we’re scared of what the visit could reveal.
Unfortunately, none of us are getting any younger, meaning that we are more at risk of health problems.
We here at Starts at 60 know how hard it can be, which is why we’ve put together this list of major health topics all older men need to be aware of.
We’re all aware that cancer is a big killer around the world, but did you know that prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of death for older Aussie men?
You’ve probably heard horror stories of how doctors check for this kind of cancer, but rest assured that it’s nowhere near as bad as people make out. You usually only need to get a test once every four years, but there are things you can look out for between visits.
Symptoms usually start to show when a tumour is big enough to put pressure on your urethra. When this happens, you’ll likely experience a bigger urge to wee or find it extremely hard to pass urine. You could also find it painful when urinating and in extreme cases, even find blood in your wee.
Others who have been diagnosed found that they had bad pains in their lower back and hips. If you start noticing any of these, see a doctor as soon as possible. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have cancer, but it’s always best to be on the safe side.
Heart disease is actually the number one cause of death for older Australian men. If you’ve been experiencing chest pains or finding it hard to breathe, it could be a sign there’s a problem with your heart.
Heart disease usually occurs when your arteries become blocked and can often result in a heart attack.
While preventing it isn’t always possible, especially if your heart problems have been passed down through genetics, there are small changes you can make to lead a healthier lifestyle.
These include lowering your cholesterol levels, exercising more, eating healthier foods and stopping smoking.
Behind heart attacks, strokes are the next biggest killer of Australian men.
More than 35,000 people are hospitalised each year from a stroke and they usually occur when blood is cut off from the brain.
A quarter of all strokes can be fatal, so it’s really important to realise that you can’t mess around if you suspect you’re suffering from one.
The Stroke Foundation urges all people to be aware of their F.A.S.T campaign as a way of helping yourself or someone you suspect is having a stroke. F is for checking if your face has drooped, A is if you can’t lift your arms, S is to check if your speech is slurred, while T stands for time to call for help if you’re showing any symptoms.
Maintaining a healthy weight and lowering blood pressure are just some of the lifestyle changes you can make to prevent a stroke.
Research has found that thousands of people are currently living with Type 2 diabetes and don’t even know it. It basically occurs when your pancreas isn’t producing the right amount of insulin, resulting in your body leaving too much glucose in your blood.
Most people living with Type 2 Diabetes will be required to take medication or insulin to help them with their condition.
For others, simply monitoring your blood glucose and making small lifestyle changes can be enough to manage the condition.
These changes can include, but are not limited to, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising frequently, eating a healthy diet that doesn’t include many processed meals and reducing levels of alcohol consumption.
Believe it or not, depression is something that impacts more males than we’re aware of.
Studies suggest that one in eight of us will experience it at some stage in our lives, with suicide being one of the leading causes of premature death in the country.
While progress is being made when it comes to mental health, men are still less inclined to talk about their feelings. In fact, many of us still think that depression only means feeling sad, which isn’t the case.
It can also be that feeling of helplessness, unable to control our emotions, unable to sleep or focus. If you’ve also lost interest in things you usually love such as social events or sports, this could also be a sign of depression.
If you feel like you’re depressed, it’s always a good idea to talk to your GP about what options are available for you. It doesn’t always mean you’ll be put on medication and you could find there are small changes you can make that will make you feel a lot better about yourself. For emergency situations, Lifeline is available 24 hours a day on 13 11 14. You can also visit beyondblue.org.au.