By Amanda Grayson - Contributor

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Men: Three things to do to stay healthy as you age

June 14, 2017

June is a time to celebrate all the dads in our lives. But, when it comes to thinking about the men in our lives, there’s more to the month than the typical Father’s Day cookout.

It’s also a time to increase awareness of preventable health problems, and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men. That’s the purpose of Men’s Health Week, held annually during the week ending on Father’s Day.

We used this opportunity to look at specific ways that men in their senior years can make sure they are at peak health. Dr. Dan Trajanjo, senior medical director at Blue Cross and experienced geriatric physician, offered us general health tips for men as they age.

Here are his top three recommendations:

1 . Go to the doctor

“Oftentimes, men are not as good as women at getting to the doctor for regular checkups and health needs,” says Dr. Trajano.

He recommends visiting your primary doctor to get your immunizations up to date and for any preventative screening tests you may need.

“Things like colon cancer screening, making sure your cholesterol is under control and your blood pressure is screened and controlled are paramount.”

While there, talk to your doctor about screening for prostate cancer and determine the best choice for you.

“Recent evidence shows there may be risks, as well as benefits, to screening for prostate cancer. That is an individual decision to make with your primary care doctor,” Dr. Trajano says.

Finally, Dr. Trajano notes that if you’re a man between age 65 and 75 who smokes or who has smoked, you may want to consider on more step while at the doctor.  New evidence suggests you may want to be screened for an abdominal aneurysm because smoking is associated with abdominal aortic aneurysms.

In short – go to the doctor to take care of your specific health needs.

2. Exercise

Dr. Trajano reiterates what you’ve heard a million times before – get some exercise. Staying physically fit is key to your health.

Blue Cross member John Tollefson takes that recommendation seriously. The 69-year-old retired attorney used to exercise to relieve work stress but continues to make it a priority during retirement.

“For the past 45 years, running has been my main activity,” John says. “However, when I was 50 I had an Achilles problem and could not run for three years. “

“During that time, I started riding a road bicycle. Now I split my exercise between running and biking four times a week and usually take a kickboxing class three times a week. I also use strength training two times a week.”

And by keeping fit, John has no trouble keeping up with his nine grandchildren.

While you don’t have to follow John’s exemplary regimen to be healthy, Dr. Trajano does recommend at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week.

3. Get out with friends

Find your tribe, because social isolation isn’t good for anyone.

“In general, I think women probably have developed more strong friendships than men,” Dr. Trajano says. As men retire, it’s especially important to find ways to interact and socialize with others. Avoid the tendency to be home by yourself watching TV.”

Socializing with others is important for your mental health which impacts longevity and wellness.

Want to boost both your mental and physical health? Combine Dr. Trajano’s recommendations and work out with others.

“My wife and I have met many new friends at kickboxing. Classes have 30-40 participants, and we know many more because there are 4-6 classes a day,” John tells us. “We do some easy walking, biking or golfing with our friends who can’t or don’t exercise like we do.”

About Dan Trajano M.D

Dan Trajano serves as Blue Cross’ senior medical director for the STARS and Risk Adjustment Center of Excellence. He is responsible for medical leadership on strategic initiatives to improve quality of medical care, health outcomes and member experience within the Medicare STARS Center for Excellence.


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