Posts Tagged ‘successful aging’

Men Who Hate Seeing the Doctor

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

SFA author Jim Evans is a 45-year veteran of the health-fitness industry and an internationally recognized fitness consultant. Today Jim talks common sense to an older gentlemen who, for his own good, needs a reality check.

DEAR JIM: I’ve had a sharp pain in my lower abdomen for the past several months. It hurts like the dickens, but it comes and goes, so I haven’t been too worried about it. My wife keeps telling me to go to the doctor and have it checked, but I’ve managed to get by without seeing a doctor for the past 20 years, so why should I start now? I’m 72, and I already know I don’t take very good care of myself. I’m an overweight couch potato and proud of it, and I enjoy my TV, a good cigar and a cold beer before I go to bed every night. My wife says I’m just an old fool, and maybe she’s right, but as long as I can still tolerate the occasional pain, why should I worry? It can’t be that bad if it hasn’t killed me yet, right? Ha, ha! OLD FOOL IN FARGO

DEAR OLD FOOL: I have to agree with your wife on this one. You really are an old fool, aren’t you? Worse, a stubborn old fool. However, you’re in good company with a lot of other old fools — and young ones too. There’s a reason why women outlive men on the average, and you’re the proof.

A national survey by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (LUCSSM) found that women were three times more likely than men to see a doctor on a regular basis. In fact, the study indicated that "trying to get a man to a doctor can be harder than pulling teeth." Come on! I’m a guy, but even I don’t understand that kind of nonsense. Why do you hate going to the doctor so much?

"There could be as many answers to that question as male patients that I see, but more often than not it’s that it’s not a priority for them," says Timothy Vavra, DO, Loyola University Health System physician and associate professor of internal medicine at LUCSSM. "They’re not willing to make a lifestyle change, so they think it’s a waste of time listening to a doctor tell them to change the way they eat, to start exercising and stop smoking if they’re not going to do it anyway."

According to Dr. Vavra, this kind of obstinate thinking just doesn’t add up. "The longer a person puts off seeing a doctor, the more likely they’ll have to see a doctor on a regular basis," he says. "Prevention isn’t a hundred percent, but we can address issues and keep an eye out for warning signs. I have patients that, if they would’ve seen me more regularly, we could have made little changes that would have helped prevent them from having a medical crisis that resulted in a complete lifestyle change."

Are you afraid that if you see a doctor you might find out something is wrong with you? Well, the longer you wait, the more that just might turn out to be true.

"If you wait until you have a health crisis, it’s no longer preventive care," adds Dr. Vavra. "It’s secondary care, and that may include surgery and/or hospital stay. Instead of making a simple change in diet and lifestyle, a person will have to make significant changes and often be on medications. Having to see specialists, paying for procedures and taking daily medications can really affect a person’s financial health."

And, what kind of example are you setting for the young men in your family who look up to you as a parent, grandparent or relative if they see you neglecting your health and making lame excuses about not going to the doctor. My advice is to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. If you do find something wrong, deal with it. If you don’t find anything wrong, change your lifestyle and move forward so that your next appointment won’t be so traumatic. Either way, you’ll be glad you did. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your wife.

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