How to help your Gen X man live longer

What to watch for as GenX age.
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What to watch for as GenX  men age.

My Big Brother!

I know broaching the subject of health for the 30, 40 something year old man means my male friends and relatives will think I’m talking directly to them. That’s okay because I am…via their women-folk (myself included). To put this plainly: some Gen X males still think they are invincible when it comes to their lifestyle habits. Newsflash, Everyone: bad health is cumulative meaning it adds up over time! Chronic illnesses by definition rarely blast you away out of the blue without warning. Instead, tiny fissures  that begin in the good health of youth widen into massive and sometimes fatal cracks based on genetics and lifestyle habits as we age. According to the CDC, the top 5 killers of 35-44 year old men are Unintentional Injuries, Heart Disase, Cancer, Suicide, Homicide…in that order.  Let’s go through this list and the accompanying strategies to keep our men healthy, shall we? Unintentional Deaths:  That prolonged invincibility of youth can mean that your man Is not wearing his seatbelt: 52% of men die in fatal crashes due to not wearing seat belts compared to 40% of women. Is drinking and driving: Men are twice as likely than women to drive drunk and people aged 35-44 years old are the third group most likely to be involved in fatal crashes (21-24 and 24-35 year olds precede them. Read the statistics here) *Moral: Remind him that he has more to lose and a lot to live for now as an adult. Drunk driving and not wearing a seatbelt are not smart and deaths related to them are 100% preventable. Heart Disease: See that ruddy complexion and breathlessness that happens as some men age? all could be signs of heart disease. People with a family history of heart disease need to be especially careful as plaque build-up in the arteries begins in childhood. Stroke and heart attack risk ( men have a higher risk for them than women)  fall under the umbrella of “heart disease” and both are closely related to lifestyle habits, namely Poor Diet and lack of exercise : A sedentary lifestyle and diet high in salt and refined foods increases the risk for high blood pressure and obesity, both of which affect the heart immensely. Alcohol intake:  A high alcohol intake ( more than 2 per day for men, 1 for women) increases the risk for stroke, obesity and blood pressure. Click here for more info on the subject. Smoking: Smoking, aside from causing respiratory issues and cancer, causes heart disease for similar reasons as the above like elevated blood pressure and a lack of oxygen to the heart caused by smoke damaged arteries. Weight: They call it middle aged spread for a reason!  The semi sedentary office life coupled with football season /weekend beers and eating habits reminiscent of the dorm years = the dreaded beer gut and double chin. Find an activity as simple as walking or as complicated as learning something new and do it together as a family. Love him as is but vocally encourage his progress. *Moral: Keep an eye on ruddy skin in White people,  fatigue and bloat  for all people because they are symptoms of both alcoholism and and congestive heart failure. Encourage your man to leave the couch to play the sports he loves
(yelling at the TV is not the same as playing) and remind him that eating like a teenager doesn’t mean he is one: limit/eliminate fried foods & increase vegetable and fruit intake. Again, he has much to live for these days and just 10 mins of activity per day can combat health problems! ** Black people are 2.5 times as likely to have fatal strokes so should be extra attentive to alcohol intake, smoking habits, diet and exercise. The DASH Diet  is an excellent eating plan to manage high good pressure. 
Cancer: Cancer is one of those catch-all diseases that is spawned by all of the above and made doubly likely if it runs in the family.  Still, inherited cancers only make up about 5% of cancers and that 5% includes colon, ovarian, prostate, breast and childhood cancers.  Men (and women, too) who have a parent or sibling who have had these inherited cancers can learn  their risk with genetic testing. American men have higher rates of melanoma and the risk for developing it is higher in people of fair complexion, who have moles and have already had an incidence of it. *Use sunscreen and check those moles! *Moral: Enough can’t be said about diet and activity  for prevention since they are usually encouraged after diagnosis to improve outcome. Improve them now BEFORE a diagnosis! Suicide/Homicide: America’s dirty little secret is the state of the country’s mental health profile. According to WHO, depression affects 10-15% of the world population but that is merely the people who admit it and have been diagnosed. Although women are more likely to be depressed than men, men are more likely to die from suicide.  Stress caused by Economic/ job(lessness) pressure and relationship problems are 2 of the main catalysts for suicide but it can be said that a lack of diagnosis for mental health issues compounds all. Homicides:  Good news! married people had the lowest rates of homicide BUT sadly, 25% of women have experienced domestic violence; 21% of the violent acts women experience are committed by an intimate partner and many of them end in homicide. *Moral: Parents, pay attention in the mental health state of your children including boys. Teach them how to safely express their anger and frustration so it doesn’t turn inward and then violently outward. No one wants to admit their loved one s suffering or could become dangerous but there are always signs for strange behavior.Lovers, encourage each other to vent productively and to use the help of licensed professionals. Never, expose your kids to a violent partner as this is how violence breeds and grows.

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