Men's Health Month
Challenges for Men Over 50
By David Volz / August, September, October 2012
JUNE IS MEN'S HEALTH Month, celebrated across the U.S. with screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and educational activities. The idea behind it is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease.
But the potential health problems of a young man in his twenties are very different from the health problems of men several decades older. Maintenance of health is key at any age, but especially as one ages.
Tammy Weidner, a registered nurse at Broward Health Medical Center, said it is important for middle-aged men in their forties and fifties to watch out for cardiac problems and sports injuries. If a man notices a change in his physical capabilities, such as not being able to run as far as he once did, that might be a sign of cardiac problems. Or he may experience chest pains or numbness in his left arm.
"I knew of a man who noticed he could not complete his routine exercises," said Weidner. "After a cardiac work-up, his physician noted he required a stent to improve his cardiac output. He went through cardiac rehabilitation and is now back to normal."
Exercise is very important for men over 50. A regular walking schedule may be a better approach to maintaining health than running or sprinting. "A lot of people think that the harder you exercise, the better," said Weidner. "This is not always true. It is better to consistently walk without over-exertion."
Older men should be aware of potential sports injuries. Too many men will push themselves too hard when exercising. They should reduce their exercise, if they notice swelling in their joints or pain at injury sites that does not go away. A follow-up with an orthopedic physician to ensure no further injury may be necessary.
A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, to check for prostate cancer, is important for all men over the age of 50. Signs of prostate trouble include frequent urination, trouble passing urine, and a burning sensation when urinating. Blood in the urine or nagging pain in the hips and pelvis are also signs of prostate problems, according to Weidner.
Men over 50 should have a number of tests that may prevent health problems from escalating, according to www.WebMD.com. A thyroid hormone test is important. The thyroid is an innocuous-appearing gland in the neck producing hormones needed for metabolism.
Older men should receive an annual rectal exam. This may provide clues to treatable problems in the colon, such as cancer. Weight gain is often a problem for older men, who should watch their weight carefully, eat healthy and exercise. Being overweight can lead to health problems. Men should watch their blood pressure and have it tested regularly. Untreated high blood pressure can damage one's heart, brain, eyes and kidneys. Men should have a cholesterol profile at least once every five years, according to www.WebMD.com.
Some men would rather not visit a physician. "Many men may feel young at heart and don't want to go to a doctor," said Weidner. "Being proactive about one's health is essential to maintain a healthy life."
Spiritual well-being is also important for older men. Rabbi Charles Aronson, who is opening the Parkland Hebrew Center in August, believes it is vital to have a belief in a supreme being. "I think that belief in a supreme being helps one recuperate from different illnesses," he said. "Someone who does not have this feeling loses hope. I believe there is a Lord and a greater being who can do that and lift the spirits of a person."
Rev. Randal Cutter, senior pastor of New Dawn Community Church in Coral Springs, said religious faith is very important for men over 50. "It is important for men to tap into the spiritual realm and rise above the level of instinct," he said.
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