Why Women Matter to Men's Health
- Created on April 26th, 2007
Women are the heart of the family, and are the primary decision–makers when it comes to health and health care for those they love. That’s why health journalist, Andrea King Collier, co–author of The Black Woman’s Guide to Black Men’s Health says that black women are key to improving the health of the men in their lives.
According to Collier, studies show that men who have a wife or a woman in their life, are more likely to live longer than men who do not have a support system. "As women, we know it really is up to us to be that gentle guiding force for our men, when it comes to health," she says.
As wives, girlfriends, daughters, mothers, sisters and friends, we love the men in our lives and would do anything to keep them healthy. Ask any woman who loves and cares about a man, be it her husband, boyfriend, father, son or brother, she’s probably got a story about some way that he’s not dealing with his health. She knows that she has to step in and ask questions, make suggestions and even go as far as making the appointments.
"Not only are women aware, but many men know that they are not stepping up to the plate. They agree that it is the gentle guidance of the women in their lives that makes a difference," Collier says. But she also acknowledges that it’s not an easy job. According to Collier, there is a lot of resistance that goes on when it comes to health. "We just need to have some honest and open conversations with each other about our health and why it’s important that we become health partners with those we love.
"We cannot afford to be passive about the health and wellbeing of the men in our communities. We are losing black men every day to heart disease, complications of diabetes, various cancers and other diseases." Collier says.
Collier suggests that one of the first steps a woman can take is to make sure that the man in her life has a relationship with a health care provider. "Many men assume that they have a doctor–at least until they have something that needs medical attention. Then they find out that they don’t," Collier says. She suggests that the best time to find a provider is when you don’t need one. This affords you the opportunity to get referrals from friends and family, and to meet the doctor to see if he or she is a good match.
Becoming informed on health and wellness is also important. "There is a ton of good information out there–newspapers, magazines, television, and of course the internet, provide great resources. "The more informed a woman is on things like health screenings, prevention efforts, healthy recipes, and healthy lifestyle, the more she is able to help guide her man to wellness. She sees this as a win–win for black men and women. "If women take an active role in improving health outcomes for their fathers, husbands, sons and friends, they will become even more engaged in their own health. We are the key to our community and its wellbeing."
"One thing I have found out in talking to women, no matter what their ethnicity or culture, is that they all face challenges when it comes to getting the men in their lives to be proactive about their health," she says. The steps we take to support them in their health and wellness will not only pay off for our men, but for those of us who want to keep them around for a long time. For more information on improving the health of our men go to www.andreacollier.com.
Tips From The Black Woman’s Guide to Black Men’s Health
- Help him find a doctor that he feels comfortable with, and help him schedule regular office visits.
- Make sure he knows his important health numbers, such as his blood pressure, cholesterol levels, risks of diabetes, etc. Keep a health folder for all test results at home, as well as at your doctor’s office.
- Know as much about family health history as possible. Health history can be an important indicator of health risks. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancers such as colorectal, and prostate cancer can run in families.
- Encourage him to floss. Good dental hygiene is important for more than just his smile. New research suggests that there is a link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease and even the plaque buildup in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Help him make smart diet choices. Make sure he’s getting enough fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and cold water fish. Cut back on the sugary sodas, fried foods, and high fat desserts. Also encourage him to drink more water. It’s good for the digestive system, and is great for his skin.
- Get moving...together. Obesity can affect all aspects of health. A regular and consistent fitness plan can make a big difference, too.
- Make sunscreen a family habit. Don’t forget to encourage him to examine the palms of his hands, soles of his feet and his body for suspicious moles and lesions that could be the beginnings of skin cancer.
- Help him remember to take his medications as recommended by his health care provider.
- Help lift the stigma around mental health. Know the warning signs of depression and other mental health issues and encourage him to seek out medical attention.
- Start young. If we want to have future generations of healthy men, and women, we need to make prevention and open conversation about health a priority in all of our homes.