November Movember

Family Health Diary

Each year in November there is a focus on men’s health. This is because men tend to go to the doctor less often and men die younger and often from preventable diseases. These two things are related.

There has been a push to encourage men to go to the doctor and have regular check-ups that include heart, blood pressure and prostate. This appears to be working because in the 1980s a woman could be expected to live six years longer than a man. Life expectancy for both men and women is increasing and by 2014 the difference in life expectancy had reduced to 3.7 years.

The Movember organisation now includes mental health and suicide prevention in the charitable causes they support along with prostate cancer and testicular cancer. They say that globally one man dies ever minute from suicide. It was pleasing to see that in New Zealand the suicide rate dropped this year (June 2019 – June 2020). The ratio of male to female suicides still shows more than two and a half times more suicides are by men than by women. So this November do think mental as well as physical health for the men in your life.

Some tips from the Movember foundation about helping men (or women) with their mental health.

  • Talk to people you trust when you are feeling down or when something troubles you.
  • Spend time with people who make you feel good. It is important to stay connected, so catch up with your friends (to help you); check in with friends regularly and make sure they are doing OK (to help them).
  • Be there for your mates when they need someone to listen. 70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, less than half of men say they rely on their friends. That means lots of us don’t like to ask for help for ourselves even though we know we would be happy to help a friend if they asked us for help.

Other helpful Movember health topics for men to consider are prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Like most cancers if you find a prostate or testicular cancer early enough, then it is treatable. If you are a man, once you get to 50 you need at least an annual check-up with your doctor even if you have no current health concerns. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes in your family then you should start getting annual check-ups from 40 years old.

Other things we can all do (men or women) to improve our general health is to increase our general level of activity. If you catch public transport, park further away from the station. If you bus then get off one (or two) stops early and walk the rest of the way. If you live in a small town; how far is it to work? Can you walk or ride a bike to work? Walk two or three flights of stairs instead of taking the lift. All the little things really do add up, and of course we all need five servings of vegetables and fruit every day.

Think about all the things that make life good: friends, whanau, grandchildren, the things you love to do in your time off, sport, travel (when we are finally allowed to travel again). It is important to keep on top of health concerns so you can live a long and healthy life.

Written by Linda Caddick

This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The information contained in the blog and in any linked mate­ri­als, are not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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