If you know a man in your life – perhaps your friend, husband, brother, uncle, father or grandfather, maybe now is the time to encourage them to get a health check.
Now you might ask… Why is there a need to focus more on men’s health?
Our honest answer for this question is because statistically, men DIE YOUNGER than women.
According to 2012-14 NZ stats, the average lifespan is about 4 years longer for kiwi women than men. On a global scale, the life expectancy gap is about 7 years longer. If you look around most nursing homes anywhere in the country it should be easy to see how big the gender gap is among the them– that elderly women noticeably outnumber men.
There are many reasons why the gap starts to favour women over men over time. Among the top reasons is a mix of biological, social, and behavioural factors:
#1 Men and the term ‘masculinity’
The traditional belief of men about masculinity is that men should always be tough, brave and self-reliant. However, taking this belief too far can have unhealthy effects. In fact, one study has found that the tougher men think they are, the more likely they are to ignore bodily symptoms and pain. If ever they go for a checkup, they are also less likely to be honest about their symptoms making it harder for doctors to make proper diagnosis.
#2 Testosterone and Risky Behaviour
While high levels of testosterone bring men good benefits, the hormone also is to blame for men’s increased aggressiveness, risk-taking, underestimation of risk, pleasure-seeking, and tendency to be more impulsive. Among drivers, men more commonly break the rules and experience motor vehicle crashes than women. Men also like engaging in extreme sports, games or hobbies. Not only that, this tendency toward risky behavior and lack of consideration of consequences may also contribute to poor lifestyle decisions, such as excess smoking or drinking. These issues collectively cause males to be more vulnerable to illnesses, injuries and accidents.
#3 Dangerous Jobs
According to new data released by Statistics NZ, men especially self-employed ones, are the most likely to suffer a workplace injury. This is because men tend to do risky occupations compared to women, including forestry, coal-mining, military combat, police security, fire fighting, and construction.
#4 Lack of Social Support
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, people with fewer and weaker social connections tend to have higher death rates. Compared to women, men have fewer reliable friends or social networks. Despite the fact that depression is considered more common among women and women make more (non-fatal) suicide attempts, more men die of suicide because of the norms that discourage men to seek care for depression and ask help for mental illness.
#5 Poor Diet
“Meat is bad, veggies are good.” This phrase may help explain why women are generally healthier than men. In most cases, women just eat better.
Closing the Gap: What we can do to help men live longer
While men can’t change their hormones and genes, other factors above can be still be modified and improved. Improving these can significantly counter and reduce their chance of dying younger. We can encourage them to:
- Learn more about their family history and their risk factors.
- Be open about their health worries, may they be physical or emotional. This will enable them to access support and reassurance from the right people.
- Improve their lifestyle. Changing their poor lifestyle habits is definitely not easy but starting small and doing it step by step means progress. Get support from anyone you can – friends, health professionals or work colleagues – or explore options that are easily accessible and affordable.
- GET TO KNOW A DOCTOR THAT HE FEELS HE CAN TRUST.
- GET CHECKED by a health professional if they feel something has changed, or doesn’t feel right. It can be pretty intimidating for men to discuss their fears and concerns with a stranger, but you can always offer to accompany the person to the doctor to help them ease and open up.
- Let them know that IT ISN’T MANLY TO IGNORE THEIR HEALTH.
Always remember that illness, injury and death among men is often preventable with early detection. As we celebrate Men’s Health Month, we are offering an initial consultation deal throughout June 2017. For more information visit our Deal Page. Feel free to share this info with your man!