Get Dad To The Doc

Does the man in your life avoid going to the doctor like, well, the plague? It’s not uncommon for men to skip routine visits. But the consequences of ignoring their health could be detrimental. Half of men between ages 18 and 50 don’t even have a primary care physician, and one-third haven’t had a checkup in more than a year, according to a 2011 survey commissioned by Esquire magazine. Honor dad this Father's Day by giving him the gift of health. And just in case dad would rather be anywhere but the doctor, here are four common excuses, and a game plan to counteract them.

Excuse: "I feel fine."
Some guys feel good on a day-to-day basis. They see themselves as strong, capable and active, so why bother with the doctor?

Game plan:
When a warning light appears on your car’s dashboard, the damage is already done. Similarly, by the time your body feels run down, it can be difficult to fix. You never feel high cholesterol. Waiting until there are symptoms such as chest pains is way too late. Life-threatening conditions take root in a man’s early years, so the sooner you pay attention to your health, the better. Heart disease starts when people are in their 20s and teens. It starts early, and if it’s diagnosed early, it can be stopped and reversed. The key to preventing heart attack and stroke is to diagnose it early on and make lifestyle changes that will reverse the progression of the disease. Your physician can help you spot and prevent many deadly diseases, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems, pneumonia and depression. Simple steps like getting flu shots, checking blood pressure and cholesterol levels and monitoring your weight can lengthen the life of your engine.

Excuse: "I don't have time."
So, he knows he should see a doctor. The problem is he can’t find the time. After all, he may be working and caring for young children in addition to elderly parents. To complicate matters, the doctor’s office is far away and closed on weekends. Twelve percent of men told the American Academy of Family Physicians that “time” is their biggest deterrent.

Game plan:
It’s important to find a doctor’s office that accommodates your schedule. Choose one close to work or one that is open on weekends. Some doctors encourage email correspondence and allow you to request prescriptions online. And remember, the reward for carving out a little time for your health now may be a lot of time in the future, plus the energy to enjoy it.

Excuse: "I don't want to talk about it."
Women are more comfortable talking about their health. They’ve been getting annual exams since they were 18, they read health magazines, they chat about personal issues with girlfriends—it’s part of their culture, says Maria Regan, author of Help Your Man Get Healthy: An Essential Guide for Every Caring Woman. “In contrast, men’s conversations tend to revolve around face topics like work and sports,” she says. “They don’t want to share anything that makes them feel like they’re in a weaker position or they have a problem.”

Game plan:
It’s easier for a guy to avoid a problem if he doesn’t talk about it. A physician will ask how often you smoke, drink, eat vegetables and exercise, and about your family’s medical history. Simply starting this conversation usually can help you identify positive goals. This leads to action, and action leads to empowerment. That’s something even the strong, silent type can appreciate. Steven Jonas, M.D., co-author of Help Your Man Get Healthy, says he experiences this when managing his own health. When he suffers running injuries, the simple act of calling a doctor makes him feel better because he knows recovery is in sight: “I call it therapeutic appointment making.”

Excuse: "Exams are so uncomfortable."
No one enjoys disrobing to be poked and prodded by a near-stranger. Plus, men are encouraged to get prostate exams and colonoscopies at 50, and that sounds unpleasant.

Game plan:
One of the most important things a man can do is find a general practitioner whom he trusts and feels comfortable with. This will put him at ease and might lead to better medical results. “Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men,” Jonas says. A rectal exam at your checkup can help find this disease, and detecting cancer early is key to survival. Advances in medical equipment have made colonoscopies much more comfortable than they used to be as well, Jonas adds. It’s important to talk with your doctor about when and how often to get screened, because timing can vary. And if something does make you uncomfortable, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Need a Doctor for Dad? Look No Further Than GMC
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