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Health Wise Steps for Men 65+

  • Category: General Health
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Health Wise Steps for Men 65+

As a group, women live longer than men. Specifically, the life expectancy of an American woman is 81 years; for an American man it's 76. While there aren't clear-cut explanations for this longevity gap, research shows that women are more likely to have a regular healthcare provider and also more likely to see a medical professional when ill or injured.

June is Men's Health Month, so ATRIO Health Plans is sharing steps men ages 65 and older can take to live longer, healthier lives.

Eating Right is Essential

The combination of eating a healthy diet and maintaining a height-appropriate weight can substantially reduce an older man's risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.

First, become a fan of food that's low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. That means your refrigerator and pantry should be stocked with:

  • fruits;
  • vegetables;
  • whole grains (bread, pasta, cereal, brown rice, wild rice, popcorn, granola bars);
  • fat-free or low-fat dairy products
  • lean meats, poultry, and fish;
  • beans;
  • nuts.

Moving is a Must

Physical activity brings a bounty of benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and some cancers. Exercising regularly also improves muscle strength, flexibility, and balance.

Experts recommend aerobic exercises (stimulate heart and breathing rate) as well as strength-training exercises. Examples of exercises in the aerobic category are walking, biking, and swimming. Strength-training options include working out with dumbbells or on weight machines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends logging 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking) per week and doing muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Staying on Top of Screenings

Early detection of disease is key to maximizing good health, and screenings are the most effective tool to do just that.

Based on your personal medical history and lifestyle factors, your doctor will determine which health screenings you should have and when. The following list provides a general overview of important screenings for older men, but should not be considered comprehensive:

  • Blood pressure–High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases. You should have your blood pressure checked at least once a year.
  • Cholesterol–High cholesterol increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Cholesterol levels should be measured–at minimum–once every five years. Those with heart disease or diabetes, or a family history of heart disease or diabetes, should be screened more often.
  • Prostate cancer and colorectal cancer–Geriatric specialists now recommend factoring in life expectancy when determining if these screenings are appropriate. A conversation with your healthcare provider is thus in order to determine what's appropriate for your individual situation.
  • Bone health–Your healthcare provider should periodically assess your risk for osteoporosis; don't mistakenly assume it's just a woman's disease.
  • Diabetes check– If you're 65 or older and in good health, you should be screened for diabetes every three years. If you're overweight and/or have other diabetes risk factors, ask your doctor how often you should be screened.
  • Hearing and vision–Hearing and vision often decline in the senior years, so annual screenings are advised.
  • Dental checkup–Dental health definitely impacts physical health. At minimum, you should have a dental checkup yearly; more often if your dentist recommends additional visits.

All of these steps are pretty simple, and the payoff is priceless–a longer, healthier life.