As we age, our bodies and lifestyles change, bringing along different areas of our health to focus on. A 20-year-old will not have the same health priorities as a 70-year-old, and while some diseases do not become a risk until later years in life, the truth is that it is never too early to start looking after your health.
It can be a lot to navigate, but we have compiled all the things men should focus on in each decade of their life so that, no matter your age, you know what to do to keep yourself in peak health. We also compiled a list of what health concerns women should focus on as they age.
Your 20s are a great time to focus on gathering health histories from family members. This allows your doctors to be aware of what conditions you are more susceptible to so that you can screen for them or make necessary lifestyle changes. To ensure healthy aging, it is important to be knowledgeable about what diseases and conditions your genetics place you at a greater risk for.
Healthy habits to start include:
Starting these habits in your 20s, when most men are still in good health, helps to set a good foundation for preventing future diseases.
Once in your 30s, you will want to start scheduling doctor visits to monitor sugar and cholesterol levels and your liver and kidney function every five years. This is a great time to start watching these levels because it provides a baseline that doctors can check against down the line. Additionally, detecting any concerning numbers allows a doctor to start treatment before things progress.
In your 30s, family life and careers often take off, which can lead to increased stress. It is important for men to focus on destressing to prevent the development of high blood pressure, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes.
Some ways to reduce stress include:
A man’s 40s is when many heart and prostate problems start to appear, so it is important to see your doctor and undergo any necessary screenings. Besides skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, affecting 1 in 8 men. So, it is crucial to screen for it, be aware of any family history, and know the risk factors.
Up until this point, it is recommended to screen for blood pressure every 3 to 5 years. However, once men turn 40, it is recommended to screen for blood pressure every year. This is because high blood pressure is symptomless but can lead to some dangerous diseases if unmanaged, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or kidney failure. Since it is symptomless, there is no way to know you have it, so screening is essential.
Cholesterol, a closely related risk factor for heart disease, also becomes more of a concern for men at this point in their life. With men over the age of 45 at the greatest risk of heart disease, it is essential to regularly monitor cholesterol levels and focus on a diet that reduces cholesterol levels and improves heart health.
Focus on the following:
The most important screening to schedule in your 50s is a colonoscopy, which helps detect colorectal cancer. 1 in 23 men develop colorectal cancer throughout their life, and it is the third leading cause of death due to cancer in men. However, the number of deaths from colorectal cancer have been dropping for the past few decades because of the increase in screenings. In fact, colonoscopies are associated with a 67% reduction in the risk of death from colorectal cancer, so this is a screening that you don’t want to skip.
Joints may start to ache in this decade of life, but exercise is still important to strive toward. If your joints are too achy to do anything, try swimming or riding a bike since these activities are gentler on the joints.
In your 60s, there is an increased need to focus on maintaining cognitive functioning. This is a time when many people retire, but it is important to stay active and busy. Some ways to keep the mind active include reading more, taking on a leadership role in an organization, or joining clubs and senior leagues.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can start to appear during this stage, which is why strengthening the brain through the above activities is essential. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as early treatment can help slow its progression.
As we age, our vision deteriorates, so it is often recommended to visit an eye doctor before vision loss progresses too far. Additionally, as vision deteriorates, be sure to keep the home safe, including removing loose rugs, sharp edges, and other health hazards. Falling can be detrimental at this age, so it is important to do what you can to prevent this.
Bone health can also decline as we age, leading to more severe complications from falls. While men typically suffer from osteoporotic fractures 10 years later than women typically do, the complications from these fractures are greater in men than women. It’s best to undergo osteoporosis screening with your doctor and take any suggested supplements (such as vitamin D and calcium) or medication needed to strengthen the bones.
For those who have fallen in the past, reach out to your doctor about good exercise programs that focus on improving strength, balance, and flexibility.
Our bodies change through the years, requiring the way we care for them to also change. From our 20s, when the goal is establishing healthy habits, to our 70s, when fall prevention and vision protection are priorities, there’s always something to focus on.
No matter the decade, one of the greatest priorities in men’s health is disease prevention and screening. Staying on top of these tests ensures that you give yourself the best possible chance of recovering from disease when it’s in its early stages, encouraging healthy aging.
Promoting men’s health should be a priority for every man, and by catering your care to what your body needs at your age, you can guarantee a brighter and healthier future.