Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Data from 2017 analyzed by the Peterson Center on Healthcare/Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that the life expectancy of the American man is five years less than the American woman. Since it’s June and Men’s Health Month, Panhandle Home Health (PHH) wants to celebrate men by focusing on simple steps they can take to improve the length and quality of their lives.

Why do men get the short end of the longevity stick? In response to his wife’s question, “Why do you assume you’ll die before me?,” Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing, presented the following:

Of particular note today is the fact that more men than women develop severe illness and die from COVID-19. According to ScienceNews, this may be attributed to more men having underlying health issues, like hypertension and diabetes. Also, females demonstrate a stronger immune response than males, making women less susceptible to viral infections than men.

While some of these factors are beyond one’s control, others can be addressed through choice and habit. The Centers for Disease Control reminds women that they can support the health of the men who are important to them by modeling and encouraging those good choices and habits.

The Cleveland Clinic adds getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night to its healthy- habit recommendations for men over the age of fifty. And, while encouraging men to talk to their physicians to determine the health screenings they should have (and how often), the Cleveland Clinic deems blood pressure, cholesterol, prostate cancer, and colon cancer screenings “some of the most important.”

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) gets a lot of attention in the media today as a means for men to remain more youthful and vigorous. The Mayo Clinic explains that testosterone is a hormone produced primarily in the testicles, and it helps maintain men’s bone density, fat distribution, muscle strength and mass, facial and body hair, red blood cell and sperm production, and sex drive. Testosterone levels, which are at their peak during men’s adolescence and early adulthood, decline by about one percent per year after the age of thirty or forty. A blood test diagnoses a low testosterone level.

It is critical to determine, in consultation with a physician, if a low testosterone level is due to a natural decline or if it is due to a disease called hypogonadism. Medications, depression, diabetes, thyroid issues, and obstructive sleep apnea may also cause low testosterone levels. And while it’s clear that TRT can help reverse the effects of hypogonadism, it’s not certain whether it benefits men who are older but otherwise healthy. According to the American College of Physicians, TRT may improve sexual function somewhat in some men, but there is little evidence it improves vitality and energy.

Furthermore, the Mayo Clinic cautions that TRT presents risks, including exacerbating sleep apnea, causing acne or skin reactions, stimulating non-cancerous growth of the prostate and growth of existing prostate cancer, enlarging the breasts, limiting sperm production, contributing to blood clots, and increasing the risk of heart disease. It’s imperative that a man considering TRT weigh the risks and benefits with his doctor.

Medical News Today reports that natural ways to boost testosterone do exist, and they involve many of the healthy choices and habits previously mentioned: getting sufficient sleep, losing weight, eating a balanced diet, staying active, reducing stress, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Discuss with your doctor whether vitamins and supplements are appropriate for you. Deficiencies in vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc may be responsible for a decrease in testosterone levels. Creatine, which is found in salmon, tuna, and beef, “is known for its small but reliable testosterone increases.”

PHH hopes that we’ve offered the men in our lives some practical tips for optimizing their wellness: You deserve to take the time to make the most of yourself!  But should your well-being ever require the support of home health care, remember that PHH is ready to work with you for your health.