Durham Healthcare News: Why Men Have a Harder Time with Aging

April 20, 2017 | By Lorenzo Mejia

Men often feel the need to be strong and stoic to be masculine which can affect their healthcare. There is traditional model of masculinity for boys until adulthood, but there is not one for aging men who may need to ask for help and lose their identities when they quit working. Healthcare providers are trying to find solutions for aging men to help them grow older and stay manly later in life. There are several tenets that are addressing aging in men and how to prepare and age well.

One of the first things men think is that they should be physically strong. Many men feel their body should be strong and if it breaks down it adds to the stress of aging. Men may not be able to perform like their 20-year old selves, but they should adjust their expectations and work to maintain a healthy body and stay physically fit.

Another issue for aging men is risk taking. Younger men drink, smoke, play sports and drive without seat belts. As we age, the body doesn’t heal as quickly as it once did and risk taking become reckless in older men. One way to combat this is to see yourself as a family protector. One gentleman decided against shoveling his snow covered drive and hired someone to do it so he wouldn’t be at risk to back injury.

Men often feel they need work for respect, achievement and competition. They find it very difficult leaving that environment because of the loss of status and influence. Many men find satisfaction from teaching part-time, forming consulting companies with friends or taking active roles in non-profits. It affirms their masculinity even if they are not earning a large income or may not even need it.

Men never ask for help whether is for directions or regarding their own healthcare. Many avoid preventative health care because it requires admitting vulnerability and sacrificing control. Older men adjust to this by being proactive by and taking control of their health care and not letting medical problems wear them down. They also start feeling that is what they do for their wife’s well-being as well.

Lastly, men don’t tend to show their emotions because it makes them look weak. If they lose a spouse or experience other loss, they do not know how to grieve. Many men have higher rates of depression and other mental health problems and are less likely to seek treatment. However, men are adapting and learning to cry and grieve. They just have to figure out where to do it. Masculinity still resonates, but it is being applied in different ways.

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