Men’s health is more than just a prostate check. It is important to recognise that health risks and needs change through the different stages of a man’s life. During the teenage years and early twenties, risk taking behaviours account for most of the health issues affecting men. Drug and mental health, smoking, sexual issues and accidents arise from the struggles of finding ones identity and place in the world. Men during their thirties and forties often experience a time where job and family pressures take priority and the rot of self neglect starts to take hold. Cancer risks are still low but alcohol related illnesses, mental stress and heart disease start rearing their heads. It is a period where people are often time poor and trying to juggle demands of career, parenting and their personal relationships.
The fifties and sixties become a time when the children start leaving home, financial pressures become less and it’s just you and you partner, or more commonly, second or third partner. Most men haven’t had any time to work out who they are and their identities have been so locked into work and parenting, that significant psychological distress can occur in this ‘empty nest time’.
Health issues are still dominated by heart disease so check-ups should focus on reversible factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes. Exercise, weight reduction strategies and lifestyle changes are important to consider. Prostate disease is a real problem, as nearly 50% of fifty year old men have prostate symptoms, but fortunately cancer is not common. Seventy is now the new sixty. Hopefully at this time in your life, if you’ve planned it right, you will still have your health, some money left over and a partner to share it with. Now is the time when everything catches up with you, so it’s important to keep yourself healthy before the ‘wheels fall off the cart’.
Health care starts with you caring about your health, looking after yourself physically and mentally throughout your life, not just when things go wrong.
Dr Mark Sujecki, Mt Martha