The men in our lives, from dads to boyfriends, certainly vary in many ways, but there’s one aspect 80 percent or more of them share: a reluctance to see a doctor, even when they’re sick or need important screening exams.
Moms and wives know it can be a clichéd chore – convincing the men they love to get to the doctor’s office. Yet you continue to try, knowing the dangers that accompany a lack of regularly scheduled medical care.
Jason Knutson, DO, an Avera Medical Group family medicine physician, shared some insight on how important regular visits to the doctor can be in terms of overall health.
“I would say the biggest issue is feelings, and I know that sounds odd, but men will often say they feel ‘healthy’ yet that does not indicate one is actually in good health,” Knutson said. “Part of it is also cultural. Silly myths about being ‘tough’ or ‘manly’ can get in the way of your husband’s or father’s actual health.”
Some studies show men younger than 50, in many cases, have no regular source of health care. That’s a problem, because, as Knutson said, there are many health issues that just do not “get better on their own.”
“Early detection is almost always the No. 1 way to avoid bad outcomes,” he said. “Women outlive men by about seven years, and this reluctance could be part of the reason behind the disparity. Men need to start changing their attitude – and women can help them.”
Knutson offers these tips when it comes to convincing the men in your life to get into the exam room.
Explain the facts: Make it clear that feeling good and being healthy are not the same thing. Men with high blood pressure or blood sugar might feel just fine, but they are not healthy. “Logic can make a difference with some men, and you can certainly use the logic that men might apply to, for example, a vehicle,” Knutson said. “If it works to remind them of the preventive maintenance they put into their cars, trucks or motorcycles – and it gets them in – do it.”
Compare and contrast: Unlike women who learn to see their physician as they pass puberty and enter adulthood, men might not see a doctor from their teens to their late 20s or 30s. Explain that while this might have been “how it was” for the last generation, it’s now actually 2016. “That was then and this is now, and there’s a lot to be said about how everything has changed in our world, so this can be another place for positive change,” said Knutson.
Use emotional pleas: If logic fails and facts fall down, Knutson recommends pressing men with reminders about how important they are to you, to your children and to the rest of their extended families. “If he won’t do it for himself, will he do it for you or for your children’s sake? That can be a tough conversation, but one to consider,” Knutson said. “Studies by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) found that 80 percent of men will go to the doctor if asked – or told – to do so by their spouse or significant other. That’s another approach that can work to get them in.”
Share examples: Men can be competitive creatures, to put it mildly, so providing your husband or father an example of another man who went for his physical exam or other appointment might move the needle and get them to stop delaying. “Sometimes all it takes is that one friend or relative – you point out that they went, and like a switch, the stubborn man who was refusing now will make it to his appointment,” he said. “Any approach that leads to getting good care is worthy of consideration. So try them all – just make sure he’s seeing a doctor.”