Week 2: Movember – ageing in men & preventative healthcare
Genes, lifestyle, and disease factors can all affect the rate of the ageing process. However, taking advantage of preventative health measures along the way can help to optimise your vitality and protect your health. Gentleman, it’s time to get informed!
The process of ageing is strongly related to the effects of lifestyle, environmental, and disease states which are related to changes with ageing, but not necessarily due to age itself.
The process of ageing creates the conditions for diseases to develop, thus, it makes sense to target the processes in order to potentially slow down the rate of ageing. The changes that ageing brings about will differ from one person to another. For example, we will all suffer wear and tear of our joints over time due to the loss of cartilage, and we will all experience reduced skin elasticity due to degradation of connective tissues. As such changes progress, they lead to the familiar diseases of ageing. These processes are similar for both men and women, however, there are some differences to note:
* Women experience menopause around the age of 50; this is when menstruation ceases and the ovaries stop producing estrogen. For men, testosterone levels will drop by 1% each year after the age of 30. Lowered testosterone levels can bring about changes such as erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, and changes in sleeping patterns. Unlike menopause which brings fertility to an end, men can still reproduce and create sperm in old age.
* Both men and women lose collagen at the same rate after the age of 30, however, men typically have thicker skin and high collagen levels, making their skin appear to have less wrinkles as they age… the envy of every woman!
* As testosterone levels drop, lean muscle mass is gradually lost in men. Reduced testosterone levels can also lead to increased baldness, although pattern baldness also depends on hormones and genetics.
Men and women will experience different health outcomes as a result of both physiology and socially constructed behaviour expectations.
This is what Movember is all about-encouraging men to seek help earlier, speak up sooner, and encourage preventative behaviours.
“Australian men are less likely to seek treatment from a general practitioner or other health professional, and are less likely to have in place social supports and social connections when needed. When they do access a health professional, it’s typically when a condition or illness is advanced (Australian Medical Association, 2018)”
Why do men have poorer health outcomes in comparison to women?
A 2014 report on men’s health by the Victorian Government found that:
* Young men can behave as if they are invincible; men seem to be more likely to engage in risk taking behaviour.
* Australian male culture (and in many Western cultures) perpetuates a distorted notion of masculinity.
* Men with depression are less likely to seek social support, and are more likely to manage their symptoms via alcohol and drugs.
What can be done to support men’s health and improve men’s health outcomes?
Gents, it’s time to take charge of your health. Here are some practical tips to get you started: the sooner, the better.
1. Find a doctor and get an annual physical: discuss all aspects of your health and get routine blood work done.
2. Get informed. Become knowledgeable and understand symptoms that you should and shouldn’t ignore.
3. Eat to thrive. Good nutrition is vital; you can’t achieve a balanced diet with limited foods or foods lacking in nutritional value.
4. Prioritise sleep. Get at least 7 hours; that’s not something anyone should compromise!
5. Check your head. Mental health is extremely important.
6. Care for your prostate. This becomes increasingly important as men age. The prostate grows as you get older and can lead to symptoms such as urinary problems.
7. Wait 60 seconds. Take a minute to think about the consequences of your actions when faced with decisions. Sixty seconds of thought can prevent a world of hurt.
Aged Care Guide (2018). Older males urged to make the most of men’s health week. Retrieved from http:// https://www.agedcareguide.com.au/talking-aged-care/older-males-urged-to-make-the-most-of-mens-health-week.
Australian Medical Association (2018). Men’s health. Retrieved from http:// https://ama.com.au/position-statement/mens-health-2018.
Life Extension Advocacy Foundation (2018). Is ageing natural, a disease that we can treat, or both? Retrieved from http:// https://www.leafscience.org/is-aging-natural-or-a-disease/