Men are reluctant to share health concerns

I’d like to start a campaign to encourage older men to address their health issues with their doctor.

I have a dear sixty-something friend who recently expressed frustration because her husband refuses to get medical attention.  

Statistically, men are more likely than women to be stubborn about seeing a doctor, even when they are sick or in pain.

According to a Cleveland Clinic survey only 3 in 5 men go to the doctor for a routine check-up, and when something is wrong, 61% of men say it has to get unbearable before they'll go see a doctor.

This same study found that 72% of men would prefer to do household chores, like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, than go to the doctor.

My friend is concerned about her husband’s reluctance, because now that they are older, she worries that when serious health symptoms arise, he will still be unwilling to seek help.

Her attempts to reason with him have failed. She does not nag him because she knows from experience that will not work. She does not take matters into her own hands and make an appointment for him, because he won’t show up.

She is worried about him, and his health, and their ability to live a long healthy life together.

Why do a high percentage of men put their health on the backburner?

Some believe their problems will go away on their own, or they are not serious enough to warrant intervention. Some are fearful of what the doctor will say and would rather live in a state of ignorance or denial than face that fear.

Some may feel embarrassed by their condition.

Some may feel they are too busy to make and keep an appointment. And some may have had a bad medical experience and do not want to have another.

Part of the problem too, may be societal norms that have encouraged men to be macho and not show weakness.

I often think of my maternal grandfather Andrew (who I am named after.) Having been widowed, in his early seventies, he soon thereafter found a lovely woman, a widow herself, who came from Italian heritage just like my deceased grandmother.

My grandfather, and his brothers all experienced heart trouble as they aged.

As it turns out, my grandfather died a mere two weeks after marrying his new wife. It was likely he was experiencing medical symptoms but had neglected to seek medical help so as not to appear weak to his new wife. Now, she was left without a husband, my mother without her father, and my sisters, and I were left without our grandfather.

The study also noted that even when men see their physician, they are less likely to go into detail about their symptoms, providing the bare minimum of information. It is well noted that physicians must work harder to develop a rapport and trust with their male patients than their female ones. This also needs to change.

Hopefully empathizing with wives who want long healthy lives with their husbands and reading the cautionary tale of my grandfather’s experience will provide some incentive for the men in our lives to seek medical help when needed.


Categories: Elder HealthNumber of views: 111

Tags: men's health

Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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