It’s helpful to know what health checks there are, how we can tackle some of the day-to-day caring such as shaving, and how being ‘cared-for’ might impact on mental health as a man. This could include when caring for our son, husband, dad or a male friend.
What are some men’s health issues?
It might be helpful to be aware of some of the ‘biggies’ when it comes to male health.
Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of male deaths in the UK? Men are also more likely to get lung cancer than women and research has shown that Parkinson’s disease is more common amongst men.
Biologically speaking, causes of these can stem from a range of factors. Such as smoking, having high cholesterol or diabetes. But we know that this is not an isolated issue on its own - our physical health is intertwined with our mental health. The way we nurture our mental health can, to a great extent, lead to healthier lifestyle choices. And an improvement in our overall quality of life.
Breaking the negative stigma around traditional masculinity is a good first step. If we reject the outdated idea of men being strong, confident and emotionally disconnected, perhaps we would encourage more men to speak up about their mental health.
Men’s health at 50
As we are living longer, regular health checks are useful to keep on top of. The NHS provides free health checks to those of us who are 40-74 years of age. If you or the person you care for have not yet been invited by your GP for one, simply contact your GP to see if you can arrange one.
Just like women have screenings for breast and cervical cancer, the NHS also provides screening for Bowel Cancer and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAAs), the two leading causes of death in older men. If we are registered to our GP, we will be able to have a Bowel cancer screening if we are between 60-74. And 65 for AAA screenings.
What is the male menopause?
Many of us may not know that there is a menopause equivalent for men - the male menopause. Informally known as ‘andropause’.
Andropause is a hormonal change in men which occurs when a man reaches his late 40s. It includes feelings of depression, erectile dysfunction and many other physical and emotional symptoms.
If we think we or the person we care for is going through this, it’s worth contacting our GP to find out how we can cope with the male menopause - and in some instances, we may be offered a blood test for further health checks.
Emasculation and Mental Health
A common theme that came up was around dealing with feelings of emasculation and feeling like a “failure as a man”. Emasculation, in the caring world, can branch out two ways.
On the one hand, the person we care for may feel emasculated due to physical changes caused by such illnesses, such as losing muscle size, body hair or constantly feeling fatigued. The difference in physical appearance can massively affect how we view ourselves against others.
“My son’s self-esteem and frustration at not being like other males his age is huge”
On the other hand, the person we care for can also feel emasculated because of their constant dependency on someone else - their lack of control to do the things they want to or live a ‘normal’ life.
“He is a young male in touch with all his ‘sides’ but I can see the way his illness impacts his male drive, it’s very hard for him. It easily makes him feel inadequate”.