Father’s Day has passed, so it’s OK to return to nagging dad about his health.
Jokes like that might someday be a thing of the past if men become less stubborn when it comes to seeking health care.
Dr. Gregory Scott, a primary care physician at Adventist Health Fisher’s Landing in Vancouver, explained that men can be more stubborn than women when it comes to health needs. Getting men to the doctor is a focus of Men’s Health Month, which occurs every June. Studies have shown that men are more stubborn when it comes to getting health care because of outdated misconceptions tied to masculinity and toughness.
Data from the Cleveland Clinic revealed that even when sick, 60 percent of men will avoid a doctor’s visit. That data also found that 83 percent of women encourage their husbands or male partners to visit the doctor.
Scott said some of this problem is intertwined with family men thinking they need to postpone tending to their health so they can continue to work and be present for their family.
“They get busy with their families, and work, and they tend to put things off a little bit more than women do,” Scott said.
Family and friends can help by encouraging their male friends to not delay seeking treatment when symptoms that appear. But the root cause of male stubbornness when it comes to health care is generally based in misconceptions that are shifting positively with time, Scott said. For example, men are more likely to associate mental health struggles with “weakness,” Scott said, but that is becoming less common.
“There’s much more acceptance of anxiety and depression,” Scott said. “Everyone knows somebody who has it. It’s still not quite as much as we would like. There’s room for improvement.”
Just like everyone else, men can benefit from important habits such as getting at least seven hours of sleep, eating less red meat and more fish, fruits and vegetables while decreasing sodium intake. Scott said it’s also important to take vacations occasionally, which can lower stress that builds through constant work.
Other important health factors that need to be monitored as men age are getting colorectal cancer screenings, cholesterol blood tests, blood sugar tests and screenings for depression, a factor in many suicides, which have increased 33 percent between 1999 and 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Those kinds of things can make a big difference if you get in there and check them,” Scott said.