senior man playing checkers

Older Men's Health Issues and 5 Tips to Prevent Them

June 6, 2018

People in the U.S. are living longer and longer. However, the life expectancy for men never seems to catch up to women. According to the latest study, the average life span for men is 75 years, versus 80 years for women. Researchers believe the gap is because men don’t take as many preventive health measures. In fact, most health issues that affect older men are considered preventable. In recognition of National Men’s Health Week, June 11—17, we’re sharing some small steps senior men can take to stay in their best health for years to come.
 
1. Be proactive
As we age, it’s more important than ever to stay on top our health. Senior men must take care of themselves to prevent disease and better manage chronic health conditions. This means seeing physicians regularly for check-ups. When seeing a physician, men should opt for different screenings that can detect a variety of illnesses in early stages. The earlier an illness is detected, the easier it typically is to treat.

2. Prevent accidents  
In general, men are more likely to have accidents than women. For senior men, most accidents happen at home and can be prevented. Add secure railings in places like the bathroom, make sure floors aren’t slippery and are clutter-free, and add a few extra nightlights, so walkways are well-lit at night. See our Fall Prevention Checklist for other tips.

3. Watch for prostate problems 
Senior men commonly develop benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), also referred to as an enlarged prostate. This condition makes it difficult to urinate and can also affect sleep. While BPH is not preventable, senior men should see their doctor if they have trouble emptying their bladder. A physician can suggest options for controlling the uncomfortable symptoms. 

4. Keep your brain sharp
Approximately 11 percent of men age 71 and older develop some form of dementia. Researchers believe that exercising our brains on a consistent basis can help prevent it. Seniors should spend at least 20 minutes three times a week doing mental exercises such as reading, writing, playing board games, or doing crossword puzzles to keep their brains sharp.

5. Get necessary vitamins and exercise
Boron is a vitamin with many health benefits, but for men specifically, it helps to protect the prostate. Foods such as chickpeas, almonds, beans, veggies, avocado, and other plant-based foods are rich in boron; there are also daily supplements available. Getting the proper amounts of calcium and exercise can supplement a healthy diet for men over 60 to help strengthen bones.
 
Starting healthy habits is difficult at any age. Research suggests that men might need more encouragement. A good first step is to have a conversation with your senior dad about his health status. From there, help set manageable goals he can achieve. 
 
Sources
Health in Aging
Medicine.Net
WebMD
Men’s Health
One Green Planet