June is Men’s Health Month. On average, men die five years younger than women, and die at higher rates from nine of the top 10 causes of death. Men are also less likely than women to be insured. All of this impacts their ability to be involved fathers, supportive partners, and engaged community members.
There are quite a few things your patients and clients can do to help dad as Father’s Day nears—and even more that all of us can do to help men all year. Let’s start with Dad:
- Encourage him to get a physical. Most of the factors that contribute to men’s shorter, less healthy lives are preventable. And that prevention starts with seeing a healthcare provider on a regular basis. Adult men in the United States visit primary care providers at lower rates than adult women. Establishing baselines for factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and PSA (a screening test for prostate cancer risk)—and monitoring how they change over time—will enable the provider to catch potentially dangerous conditions early, when they’re still treatable. You can download a helpful chart of recommended screenings at www.healthfinder.gov.
- Encourage him to get physical. The benefits of physical activity on health outcomes are extensive, and many people find it difficult to get motivated for physical activity on their own. Rather than simply telling your dad to exercise and then hoping that he will, do it with him. Join a recreation league at your local community center, sign up for group personal training sessions to get fit together, or simply make a routine out of regular walks. Simple, yes, but not always easy.
- Let him know you care. One reason men disregard their own health is that they’re too busy taking care of everyone else. What they don’t realize, however, is that if they die early, they’ll be hurting the very people they’ve worked so hard to protect. So remind him that you and your other family members love him and need him to be alive and healthy for as long as possible.
Now, here are a few ideas for what the rest of us can do:
- Wear blue. In 1994, Congress passed a bill declaring the week before Father’s Day as Men’s Health Week (this year, it’s June 11-17). Encourage everyone you know to wear something blue that week, take pictures of each other, and show your support by posting them to social media with #ShowUsYourBlue.
- Learn more. Men’s Health Network (the DC-based nonprofit that helped pass Men’s Health Week) has collected more than 300 proclamations from governors, mayors, and Native American communities recognizing Men’s Health Month (and Week), the important part that fathers play as role models for their children, and how much better off kids are when they have an actively involved dad in their life. See them at MensHealthMonth.org. And learn more at www.MensHealthNetwork.org
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