In June, we celebrate Men’s Health Month and encourage men of all ages with disabilities to learn more about preventable health problems and to practice good health habits.
Why raise awareness about men’s health?
According to the Movember Foundation, around the world, men die an average of 6 years earlier than women. One of the key reasons for this difference is because men often don’t practice good health habits.
Men are less likely to visit a doctor when they are ill. And, when they do visit a doctor, they are less likely to talk with their doctor about the symptoms they experience. As a result, men reduce their chances of receiving the best care for their illnesses.
Men with disabilities often experience additional obstacles and challenges to good health. Barriers to health care and good health may include:
- Difficulty getting to/from a doctor or inaccessible medical equipment
- Challenges clearly communicating with a doctor about symptoms, treatment options, and medications so that the patient understands why testing out different treatment options or medications may be necessary
- Challenges finding doctors who have expertise and are comfortable working with and treating people with disabilities
- Lack of insurance to visit the doctor or inability to pay for services
- Lack of education about good health habits
- Perception from some doctors that problems are because of disability, not general health issues
Perception from some people that people with disabilities cannot practice good health habits
How can I help the men with and without disabilities I know to be healthier?
- Take the men you know to the doctor. If he needs assistance communicating with a doctor about symptoms of issues, check out resources like Talking to Your Doctor Regarding Men’s Health, a resource created by and for self-advocates for our HealthMeet project.
- Plan fitness activities that he may be interested or start a group with coworkers, neighbors, families, and friends to get together and be healthy and active. For tips on how to make sure men with disabilities you know can take part in these activities, check out the National Center for Health, Physical Activity, and Disabilities (NCHPAD).
- Educate the men in your life about the importance of eating The CDC has some great tips on maintaining ahealthy weight through healthy eating, which includes creating a plan that can help the men in your life eat more nutritiously.
- If needed, educate the men in your life about the need to go to the doctor. If you need help describing breast, colon, or prostate cancer, check out these books for people with I/DD: Breast Cancer Booklet, Colon Cancer Booklet, Prostate Cancer Booklet.
- Contact your local chapter of The Arc for assistance if you need help finding a doctor who has expertise and experience treating men with disabilities or assistance getting to/from a doctor.