We know you want your pops to be around for as long as humanely possible. In honor of Father’s Day, we know one major way you can help!
Loyola Medicine has a great theme for the holiday year – “This Father’s Day be a man, see a doctor.” Their efforts are to inspire dads (and all men!) to get the yearly checkups they need to make sure their health is on track. Men do this far less than women, and may need the additional push from a loving family member to get these tests out of the way. As the Loyola website says, “Some men see going to the doctor as a weakness or nuisance—but protecting your health is one of the best things a father can do for his family.” So after he’s opened his card and gifts and you’ve spent the day doing his favorite things, have a chat with dad about what he needs to do to keep his health in check.
“I’ve found that most men, especially if they see themselves as generally healthy, don’t treat going to the doctor as a priority. In the course of a busy week, there isn’t room for one more appointment. In addition, they dread being told to eat better, exercise more and perhaps to stop smoking,” says Kevin Polsley, MD, an internist at Loyola University Health System. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this axiom has never been more true than in today’s healthcare environment … I have many male patients who could have avoided costly and uncomfortable treatments if they had seen a doctor more regularly and undergone routine screening tests. There are several easy screening tests that we use to pick up evidence of a condition before it causes symptoms. In addition, there are many vaccines that can potentially prevent serious illnesses before they occur, which can prevent serious symptoms as well as time missed from work.”
Here are ten tests every father should get this year:
1. Blood pressure: After the age of 18, every man should get his blood pressure checked once a year. It’s an easy enough test but very important to track and stay on top of.
2. Diabetes: You might think you’d know if you had it, but if diabetes at all runs in your family history, your dad will want to get checked out with a blood test every year.
3. Cholesterol: From age 20 to 35, men should be screened every year to make sure they’re at healthy levels. After age 35, they can go down to once every five years – if normal screenings have been had before.
4. Colorectal cancer: Once he hits 50, dear dad will want to get a colonoscopy to check for cancer. In the exam, a doctor uses a slender, lighted tube to examine the entire colon. This way, doctors can find and remove precancerous growths called polyps. If the results are good, dad won’t have to go back for 10 years.
5. Prostate cancer: Like the colonoscopy, dad will want to get checked for prostate cancer once he hits the age of 50.
6. Vaccines: Many of us think of shots as being a kid thing, but it’s something adults should keep up with too. Men of every age should ask their doctor about what shots they need. For instance, a single vaccination for pertussis, whooping cough, is recommended for all adults and is given with a tetanus booster. He might also want shots to prevent hepatitis, influenza, chicken pox, shingles and certain types of pneumonia.
7. Audiogram: This test will determine if dad is one of the nearly 30 million Americans with measurable hearing loss. If so, getting tested can help him learn about his condition and how to help it from worsening going forward.
8. Eye exam: If your dad has good vision, he’ll just need to plan to get an exam every two years after turning 40. But if he’s already wearing glasses or contact lenses, he’ll want to get a comprehensive eye exam every year to make sure everything looks okay. Seeing a little blurry is one thing, but there are plenty of other things the doctor will want to check out.
9. Lipid profile: These profiles can tell if someone is at risk of a heart attack or stroke - really great information as your dad gets older. You should go for he first time at age 25 and then follow up every five years if your testing is normal.
10. Electrocadiogram: An EKG test should be done at age 30 to establish baseline rates, then every 4 years between ages 40 and 50 and every three years after age 50. This tests screens for any abnormalities of the heart muscle.
Of course, these are not the only medical things your pops should be getting checked out. Encourage him to talk to his doctor and create a plan for staying on top of his health in all his years to come.
“Waiting until you have a health crisis means that your care is no longer preventive care—it’s treatment, and that may include surgery and/or a hospital stay. Instead of making a simple change in diet and lifestyle, you may have to make significant changes and often be on medications,” Polsley says. “Children look to their parents as examples of how to live and are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices if they observe their parents making healthy choices. So lead by example: if you live a healthy life, so will your kids.”
In the comments below, let us know how you’re planning to celebrate your dad this Father’s Day!