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Social inclusion and connection is key to improving elderly men’s health

Running from June 10-15, Men’s Health Week is highlighting the need for elderly men to take better care of themselves, with men on average dying six years earlier than women at 79 years old.

Researchers have found the biggest impact on living long and being happy is social connection and social integration alongside healthy living. [Source: Shutterstock].
Researchers have found the biggest impact on living long and being happy is social connection and social integration alongside healthy living. [Source: Shutterstock].

The Men’s Health Report Card for 2019 has shown elderly men are lagging behind women’s health and dying a lot younger.

The Australian Men’s Health Forum (AMHF), the national peak body behind the report, is calling for action from all levels of parliament to invest more time, money and resources into improving the lives and health of older men.

Glen Poole, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of AMHF, wants to change the way men look at taking care of themselves, not only in making healthier lifestyle choices but also maintaining strong relationships and connections with friends and family.

Mr Poole says, “Men's Health Week isn't just about telling men what they shouldn't do, it's about highlighting the positive things men can do to keep healthy into old age.

“For example, AMHF highlights the fact that social connection, having good mates and good relationships, is good for men's health, so much so that being socially isolated has been found to be as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

“So we sometimes say that the first thing you really want to do to stay healthy is be social, even if being social involves large amounts of sitting, smoking, drinking and eating sausages… though of course if it doesn’t involve those things, it’s even healthier!”

Researchers have found the biggest impact on living long and being happy is social connection and social integration alongside healthy living.

Social isolation is a major concern for the health of older men, which is reflected in the nation’s statistics of suicide.

Men are more likely to commit suicide, accounting for three in four deaths, with men over the age of 85 years old representing the highest suicide rate.

AMHF’s campaign, #KnowYourManFacts, emphasises the need for men to make better health choices, with 31 percent of poor health experienced by men a direct result of lifestyle decisions.

These poor health choices include smoking, alcohol, lack of exercise, drug use, being overweight, high blood sugar levels, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

A majority of improvements to poor health can be fixed with better nutrition, as nearly two-thirds of men's health issues are caused by not eating enough fruit or vegetables, and 75 percent of poor health is caused by eating too much processed meat such as sausages.

Among the statistics, men under 65 are four times more likely to die of heart disease than women of the same age; around one in three men die of cancer; three in four road fatalities are male; and 93 per cent of workplace fatalities are men.

For this Men’s Health Week, AMHF is focussing on improving the lives and health of older men by backing men’s health initiatives that address older men’s needs, including Circle of Men in Brisbane - tackling loneliness and isolation of frail elderly men in aged care facilities.

To get involved in an event, visit the Men's Health Week website, or to find out more about men's health, go to the AMHF website.

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