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Health concerns for men over 60 years old

When it comes to health, men can sometimes have a “she’ll be right” attitude. However, men will generally live their last 11 years in ill health.

Last updated: June 16th 2022
Men have higher risk factors for death or a reduced lifespan because of how they care for their own health and wellbeing. [Source: iStock]

Men have higher risk factors for death or a reduced lifespan because of how they care for their own health and wellbeing. [Source: iStock]

Key points:

  • Older men can find it difficult to seek help for medical problems they experience
  • Australian men do not live as long compared to their female counterparts
  • Making any healthy life choices, big or small, can make a difference in your overall health and wellbeing

Living in ill health for over a decade can be a frightening concept, especially the pain you may experience during that time.

It is not uncommon for people to experience more chronic health conditions as they get older, as age can be a key factor for some diseases and illnesses.

However, there are ways that men over the age of 60 can take care of themselves and lessen the likelihood of living in ill health or developing chronic conditions.

Barriers to health care for men

Understanding the barriers to health and information for men may assist you in figuring out why you struggle to seek medical attention when you need it.

According to Healthy Male, a national men’s health organisation, there are five main barriers that men face when it comes to seeking health assistance:

  • Avoidance: Some men instead hope that the issue isn’t anything to worry about or deny it’s a health problem, so they don’t seek medical attention and leave the issue to potentially escalate
  • Dragging feet on seeing a doctor: Many men tend to put off getting medical information or help for longer than they should. It is not uncommon for men to put off seeing a doctor until the issue begins impacting their day to day life
  • Masculinity perception concerns: Some men may worry about looking “weak” for seeking medical attention and instead put up with the pain and discomfort rather than fix the problem
  • Embarrassment or nervousness: Discussing difficult or awkward topics with professionals can be uncomfortable, so some men try to avoid their important medical appointments all together
  • Issues accessing trustworthy information: With so much health information flying around, it is hard to know what information sources to trust and who to go to for accurate health advice

The organisation did a survey with over 1,200 Australian men, which found that psychosocial barriers were most common in men who were aged 50 and over. Concerns about masculinity, looking weak, or privacy seemed to be a bigger concern among older demographics.

Seeking medical attention and keeping on top of your health is really important, and should be a priority when you are aged 60 and over.

Top causes of death in men

Western Sydney University’s Centre for Male Health says that on average men live 4.4 years less than their female counterparts.

Men have higher risk factors for death or a reduced lifespan because of how they care for their own health and wellbeing.

In general, the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing (AIHW) research found 60 percent of people aged 65 and over have two or more chronic conditions.

The top three causes of death in men are:

Cardiovascular disease (CVD):

The Australian Heart Foundation estimates that heart disease kills 40 percent more men than women. Additionally, men are presented to hospital more often for CVD than women.

A person’s risk factor for CVD can increase if they smoke, have high blood pressure, live with diabetes, or are overweight or obese.

Some men don’t lead the healthiest lifestyle, putting them at risk of serious injury or death from heart diseases.

For instance, the AIHW found in Australia:

  • Less than one in 30 men eat their daily fruit and vegetable requirements
  • Half of men are sufficiently physically active
  • Three in four men are obese or overweight
  • One in six men smoke daily
  • One in two men exceed risky drinking recommendations on single occasions
  • Close to one in two have experienced a mental health problem

Even though men have a higher likelihood of disease, in 2018, three in five men rated that their health was either excellent or very good.

Making healthy lifestyle changes can have a huge difference on an older man’s CVD prevention or management.


Mental health has become a key area for improvement in Australia, as suicide numbers are very high across the nation.

Lifeline Australia says there is an estimated 65,000 suicide attempts every year and 75 percent of those who take their own life are male.

Since 2008, suicide rates have been highest among middle aged men and men aged 85 years and older.

Seeking help and assistance for loneliness or mental health issues can be positive steps forward to combatting suicide among older men.

Motor vehicle accidents:

Ageing can have a negative effect on your driving ability and it’s important to know when driving may no longer be a viable option for yourself.

Motor vehicle accidents mostly affect men with the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) in South Australia stating that males are two and a half times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than women.

Older men may experience problems with driving due to arthritis, eyesight and hearing loss issues, reduced reaction time, and medication interference.

You may reach a point where you need to step back from the wheel and give up driving. You can learn more about that in our article, ‘Are you still fit to drive?

Other issues affecting older men

There are a range of other common conditions that should be watched and managed by older men over 60, as age can be a risk factor for many conditions including cancer.

The most commonly diagnosed cancer that is found in men in Australia is prostate cancer, and this cancer is also the second most common cancer death for men.

In Australia, it is estimated that one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer by their 85th birthday.

Prostate cancer can also affect the male urinary system and cause many issues and diseases.

Another condition where age is a risk factor is dementia. While dementia is common among older people, it is not a normal part of ageing. Dementia is a leading cause of death of men in Australia.

Diabetes is another chronic condition where age can be a risk factor. Age-specific diabetes has higher rates in men than women, especially in the 65 -74 and 75+ age groups.

It can be hard to know if you have developed diabetes, because it can be hard to differentiate between changes that are due to ageing and changes that are due to diabetes.

Making healthy life decisions

While some health problems can be genetic, there are still healthy life choices you can make that can help reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions or assist in managing chronic conditions.

Small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing. For example, did you know that climbing 50 stairs a day can reduce your likelihood of heart attack by 25 percent?

Lifestyle changes can include:

  • Improving your diet and incorporating more fruit and vegetables into the food you eat
  • Working out five days a week, you should aim to exercise around 2.5 hours a week
  • Focus on reducing weight and obesity control
  • Reduce risky behaviours, like over consumption of alcohol and smoking
  • Engage in social activity with friends and family
  • Keep on top of your chronic condition management
  • See health and medical professionals regularly

Putting effort and care into the life you lead can help you enjoy a longer and healthier life with loved ones.

What lifestyle changes have you made to be more healthy in your older age? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Top health concerns for older people
The importance of elderly nutrition
Allied health to assist with the ageing experience
Keeping healthy physically in your old age
Mental health services for older people in aged care


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