When it comes to understanding our health and taking good care of it, men have a long way to go, says health expert and television favourite Dr Andrew Rochford.
Rochford has put men’s health in the spotlight with his new book The Reality Checkup: Finding the perfect non-perfect version of yourself, discussing everything from diet to addiction, sex, sleep and mental health.
For the Baby Boomer male in particular, Rochford says there are a few key areas many need to pay more attention as they head into their 60s and beyond.
While women tend to be more open about their health, Rochford says men can sometimes put off addressing issues.
“One thing men aren’t great at is organisation of our health, especially later in life,” he says.
“In the long run it just means you’ll be able to do more in later years.
“It’s about being healthy later, not about avoiding diseases completely, but how active you can be later on.”
Rather than relying on wives or partners to push them towards an annual check-up, Rochford says men need to develop their own relationship with their GP and find one they trust.
“Start making sure you have a GP you like and trust and have a healthy relationship with so you don’t avoid seeing a doctor,” he says.
“Sometimes men will say, ‘I don’t know how to get an appointment’ or ‘I didn’t really like the last person I saw’.
“It’s really important in later years — and I’m talking 40 onwards — we should all have a GP we see regularly and don’t be afraid to move on to another one if the one you’ve got isn’t working.”
In his book, Rochford talks about the importance of being selfish when it comes to our health. Men need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves, ‘how much am I really taking care of myself?’ he explains.
Baby Boomers are lucky in that they’re living longer, healthier lives than previous generations, but with prolonged life comes new health risks in the form of prescription drug addiction, social isolation and chronic disease.
Addiction among Baby Boomers is a growing issue in Australia with over-50s using illicit drug and hitting the bottle more than younger people.
A study released earlier this year revealed that the rate of over-50s receiving treatment for substance abuse was expected to treble in the United States and Europe by 2020.
“[You] need to understand why your doctor prescribed it to you and what are you hoping to achieve on the medication for something like pain killers.
“You have to go into using those types of drugs knowing that there is a risk of addiction, that if you’re relying on them, if you’re seeking the medication, if it’s impacting on your daily life and you can’t function without it — those types of signs are actually a red flag that you need to address the problem and go back to the doctor and have a conversation about it.”
In the end, Rochford says the best way to get a handle on your health is to face it head on.
“The earlier the problem is found the better the outcome.”