Guys, Health Aging Starts With a Trip to Your Doctor
To live a long, healthy life, it helps to have a plan, knowing what you need to do – and how to do it – to avoid illness or significant damage to your health. Len Horovitz, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, recommends that you start with annual visits to your doctor.
“I like to see older guys once a year,” says Horovitz.
One of the biggest concerns they bring him: prostate cancer, for which the average age of diagnosis is 66. But the benefits of screening for prostate cancer remain questionable. The disease often develops so slowly that men live perfectly healthy lives despite its presence. Screening, testing, and treatment can cause unnecessary physical and emotional damage, such as urinary incontinence, impotence, and anxiety. On the other hand, prostate cancer can be fatal. It is complicated.
“Have a thorough discussion with your doctor about whether you want to be screened,” says Horovitz. The American Cancer Society recommends that you have this discussion at age 50. Because of their increased risk, African American men and men whose father or brother had prostate cancer before age 65 should talk to their doctor at age 45. -degree parent with early prostate cancer should raise the subject to 40 years.
Horovitz often reminds his male patients that other cancers must affect them as well. The CDC advises men aged 55 to 80 who are currently heavy smokers or who have quit in the past 15 years to have a low-dose lung scan every year. Also, men between the ages of 50 and 75 should be screened for colon cancer. How often depends on the type of test your doctor orders.
In addition to cancer, Horovitz advises older men to take care of their hearts. For many of them, it means adjusting long-standing lifestyle habits, such as a poor diet and lack of exercise. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help protect you from diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, all of which increase your risk for heart disease, Horovitz says.
And, of course, he wants the men to remain able to play in the bedroom. Erectile dysfunction doesn’t only make it more difficult. It can also be a sign of risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor if you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection.
Finally, says Horovitz, prepare for retirement mentally and emotionally. His best advice: “Have a creative life away from your job, outside of your career, which you can practice after you retire,” he says. “Most men who haven’t thought of a plan end up watching TV.”
Questions for your doctor
What can I do to recover and stay in shape even if I am confined to my home?
Indoors, climb the stairs, find workout videos on YouTube, or join a gym that offers distance classes via Skype or Zoom. The exercise is accessible to all.
Should I be concerned about sleep?
You need seven to eight hours of good sleep every night. If your bed partner says that you snore and you don’t feel rested during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep apnea, which disturbs sleep by interrupting your breathing.
How to stay inspired to maintain healthy habits?
There is no pill to stay motivated, but it can help make it a team effort. Get your spouse or partner involved and you can both be inspired.
How Much Weight Should I Lose?
You want your Body Mass Index (BMI) to be less than 25. Above that, you are overweight or obese. Set small, reasonable goals, like losing your first 5 pounds, which you can easily achieve.
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