Men’s Health 101

Tips on maintaining wellness and quality of life

By Alison Stanton

As men get older, they may begin to have concerns about their health and if it will impact their ability to get out and do things.

For these men, Dr. Walter J. Nieri,  AGSF, FACP, CMD, offers these words of encouragement: “As we get older, don’t think of what you can’t do, but what you can do.”

To help men maintain their wellness and quality of life as they age, Dr. Nieri, who is program director of the Family Medicine Geriatric Fellowship Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine–Phoenix in Sun City, suggests that men stay as busy as possible during retirement.

“When men retire, they often like to think that they will have all of this free time, and they can do this and that, but after awhile boredom sets in. This can lead to depression and oftentimes to alcohol abuse,” he says.

To prevent this from happening, Dr. Nieri suggests that men think of retirement as a career change and look for other alternatives that they would like to do — for instance, to further their education in some way, develop a hobby or pursue an exercise program.

“Retired men should do everything they can to keep stimulating their minds so as to prevent boredom and continue to maintain their physical fitness,” he says.

To encourage men — who Dr. Nieri says can often be resistant about going to a doctor — to get the preventative care and screenings they need, he suggests that their spouses take a “back door” approach.

“We do tend to be a little macho about any physical or mental problems we may be having, so a wife might suggest that they both start an exercise program together, and that it might be worthwhile to be sure everything is OK before they start,” he says.

“Or, if the couple wants to do some traveling, the spouse could say ‘let’s make sure we don’t have any medical problems that need to be addressed before we leave.’”

As for key screenings that men should have, Dr. Nieri says they should definitely have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis.

“Hypertension is a silent killer. Men can be walking around thinking they are perfectly healthy, but their blood pressure can be too high and it can increase their risk of heart disease or stroke,” he says.

“Another concern is dementia. The good news is that we are living longer; the bad news is that if we live longer, we are more likely to develop memory problems.”

In general, Dr. Nieri says men should have a routine checkup by their primary care physician every one to two years.

“If there are no medical issues, that’s fine. But if something is found to be creeping up, there is a stronger likelihood it can be treated successfully the earlier it is found.”

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