By Medline Editorial Staff
Men, on average, have a life expectancy of about five years shorter than women in Canada. But why is this? There are a number of factors at play — men are more likely to engage in riskier behaviour such as drinking or smoking, biological factors may mean men’s immune systems weaken as they age, and more.[i]
During June, which is Men’s Health Month, we’re given an opportunity to spotlight some of the differences and ways we can encourage everyone, particularly men, to improve their well-being.
Men are less likely to be proactive about their health than women. We also know that 70 percent of men’s health is dictated by lifestyle.[ii] So, let’s look at some small changes that can have a big impact:
Find a Primary Care Doctor You Trust
Trusting and finding the right family doctor is a crucial first step after prioritizing your health. This is often easier said than done, given the current challenges of finding a doctor in Canada, but the importance of finding someone you’re comfortable with is necessary.
Given the sensitivity of some of the conversations, you will have with your doctor, establishing comfort in person is critical for proactive health. After all, some things can only be diagnosed through an examination. For instance, more men are likely to develop melanoma by age 50; a doctor must be able to check the skin to make a diagnosis.[iii]
Talk to your Loved Ones About Your Health
Lean on your loved ones for support when you’re nervous or unsure about your healthcare. Sometimes finding a trusted person to listen to your concerns is a key step to seeking help for a health-related issue. This also might mean you ask your partner, friend or family member to attend a medical appointment with you so you don’t have to face a problem alone.
An emerging issue, in particular, for men is the lack of solid friendships and connections with others, which is creating a loneliness problem. Creating meaningful relationships is a key part of building a positive mental health space. In addition, talking to other men about your healthcare can be a great way to share knowledge and, again, create a comfort level about being proactive with your healthcare.
While establishing a comfortable relationship with your family doctor and leaning on the loved ones in your life is all part of creating ease, being proactive about your health can take a bit of a “mental gear change.”
Data tells us that men are less likely to visit a doctor than women and more likely to believe they’re healthier than the average person — taken together, these two pieces of information can lead to a laissez-faire attitude about one’s health.[iv] When not feeling well or right, shrugging it off and hoping it gets better is the wrong approach.
Being prepared is also important. This means having the right supplies in a first aid kit and knowing where they are at home, work, etc. Not sure what to put in a first aid kit? Medline has a number of products to get you started — band aids, gloves, antiseptics and more.
It’s almost universal guidance nowadays, but staying active is key to improving your physical and mental health. Heart disease is a leading cause of death throughout the Canadian population, and these numbers are more pronounced for men.
This doesn’t mean you have to regularly hit the gym or take up running — starting simple by going on walks, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can be a good way to stay active.
Medline Canada’s purpose is Together Improving Care™, we offer this insight to promote positive healthcare practices for all. Our experienced teams are committed to working across the healthcare system to ensure innovative solutions help deliver care in better, more effective ways across the country.
[i] Mortality and morbidity in ageing men: Biology, Lifestyle and Environment (2022): https://menshealthfoundation.ca/mens-health-check/
[ii] Canadian Men’s Health Foundation: https://menshealthfoundation.ca/mens-health-check/
[iii] American Academy of Dermatology Association: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/skin-cancer/types/common/melanoma/men-50#:~:text=By%20age%2050%2C%20men%20are%20more%20likely%20than%20women%20to,protection%20can%20reduce%20this%20risk.
[iv] Why Don’t Men Go to the Doctor as Often as Women? (2022): https://www.tricitymed.org/2017/06/dont-men-go-doctor-often-women/