Men’s Health Week: Make it a Family Affair

By Martha Simmons, B.S., Nursing, Registered Nurse Reviewer

Men’s Health Week was established by Congress in 1994 and is celebrated every year the week before Father’s Day. This year we celebrate on June 9-15, 2014.

To quote Congressman Bill Richardson (Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994): “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.” The celebration of this week gives us all an opportunity to bring a heightened awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. As a nurse, wife and mother, I know men’s health and wellness is a serious matter.

According to the Men’s Health Network web site: (www.menshealthnetwork.org ), men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths. In 1920, women lived, on average, one year longer than men. Now, men, on average, die almost five years earlier than women. According to a CDC study in 2001, women are 100% more likely to visit a doctor for annual examinations and preventative services than men. There are many possible reasons for this. One factor could be that generally women have taken more responsibility for their family’s health and tend to be more comfortable discussing health issues.  They can help the men in their lives become more comfortable discussing health issues and learn about recommended screenings for men.

The Men’s Health Network web site includes information on men’s health issues and upcoming events and conferences related to men’s health. A Wear Blue Event during Men’s Health Week is one way to raise awareness about men’s health issues. Here at New Editions, we are wearing blue on June 10th to encourage all men and boys to take care of themselves. The CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/men/nmhw/) suggests a few simple activities to celebrate:

  • Take a bike ride.
  • Toss a ball.
  • Eat less salt.
  • Try more veggies.

Men, give these ideas a try.  And ask your family and friends to join in. You can kick-start your road to better health this week!

There are a number of Federal Government web sites which are also a good resource to learn about current screening recommendations and steps to take to good health. A resource I like is the web site for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The USPSTF is an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force makes recommendations based on rigorous reviews of the scientific evidence. For more information about the USPSTF, go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Another site which has a wealth of information is http://www.ahrq.gov. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers the latest evidence-based information for improving your health with information directed to patients and consumers as well as professionals.

Martha Simmons regularly encourages the men in her life—her husband and son—to be healthy and get their physicals. Martha is a Registered Nurse and uses her diverse clinical and management experience on our Department of Transportation contract. Martha started her career in the acute hospital setting and has worked extensively in public health, community clinics, and on multiple health-related projects and programs. Her career has focused on health promotion, health education, counseling and disease prevention, as well as chronic disease management.