Older men’s hidden health concerns

William Raillant-Clark
EurekAlert

This press release is available in French.

Do men harbour concerns about aging in good health? Do they confide these concerns to their physicians? Are men’s concerns the same as women’s? The answers to these questions can be found in a large cross-sectional survey of 2325 Canadian men, aged 55 to 97 years old, led by Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Geriatrician and the Michel Saucier Endowed Chair in Geriatric Pharmacology, Health and Aging at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal (IUGM) which is affiliated with the Université de Montréal. The results of a parallel survey querying the health concerns of older Canadian women was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2005.

Priorities: maintaining one’s independence and quality of life Health issues of greatest concern to men included ailments that risk compromising independence and quality of life. Mobility impairments (64%), memory loss (64%) and medication side effects (63%) ranked top among their list of concerns. Vision loss (61%), hearing loss (52%) and falls (51%) followed in second place.

Are concerns being addressed by physicians? Paradoxically, health practitioners appear not to be providing older men with adequate health information on the issues of greatest concern to them. With the exception of addressing medication side effects, men reported that only a minority of them had received counselling on strategies to prevent, screen, and treat health-related conditions that could threaten their physical and mental health. For example, respondents reported that risk factors and screening for mobility impairment and memory loss were only discussed with 13% and 9% of them respectively.

The survey reveals important information gaps for depression (only 9.5% declared that their health care provider had discussed this with them), end-of-life care (12%), osteoporosis (13.5%), Alzheimer’s disease (16%), anxiety (17%) and incontinence (18%). Additionally, because of stigma surrounding incontinence, patients are reluctant to bring up the issue on their own.

Read More: Older men’s hidden health concerns

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