A Healthier Husband
Health Hurdle #1: Checkups and Screening Tests
Smart nudge: Get yours done at the same time.
Men see their doctors for preventive care about half as often as women do,
reports the national Men's Health Network. While they may not need as many
checkups as we seem to (all those gyno visits!), they do need more than they're
getting. This gap is one reason the average life expectancy for men is only
75.2 years, compared to 80.4 years for us. "Women are more accustomed to
going to doctors regularly for gynecological exams and pregnancy visits. Also,
seeing a doctor isn't viewed as a weakness," says Mark A. Moyad, M.D.,
M.P.H., a preventive-medicine expert at the University of Michigan Medical
Center. "The challenge is helping guys get the regular care that prevents
major health problems — or catches them early."
Your best strategy? Make it a joint project: Go for your routine checkups
together. "Women and men have many identical health issues," Dr. Moyad
notes. "Both sexes need to protect their hearts; lower their risks for
diabetes, stroke, and cancer; and be alert for signs of osteoporosis and
depression." Dr. Moyad and his wife go for their annual cholesterol and
other screening tests together. "It even fosters a little healthy
competition," he says. "We each try to have the best numbers."
Say it like this: I'll get my blood pressure and cholesterol checked with
you. "Most men will agree to go," says Dr. Moyad. "Now it's a
Health Hurdle #2: Prompt Attention to Scary Symptoms
Smart nudge: Express concern; don't blame or shame.
If your husband isn't taking care of a health problem, you're probably
feeling very frustrated, says psychologist William Pollack, Ph.D., director of
the Harvard-affiliated Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital.
"But accusing him of dragging his feet will only backfire. It can make a
guy feel like a bad boy, and he may become even more resistant."
Nor should you schedule a doctor's appointment for him unless he asks you
to. "In my experience, most guys won't go if something's forced on
them," Pollack says. "Instead, gather information about the best doctor
in your area for the condition, then ask your husband to make the
appointment." Offer to go with him, Pollack suggests. "He'll feel
That's what helped get Ira Morrow, 54, a retired forklift operator from
Vermilion, OH, to the doctor when he began having breathing difficulties. He
was then referred to a specialist, who diagnosed silicosis, a lung disorder
triggered by one of Morrow's earliest jobs as a sandblaster. Ultimately, he had
to decide whether to have a lung transplant. "My wife, Linda, listened, but
she never nagged, never insisted," says Morrow, who had the transplant and
reports, "It turned my life around."