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This Awkward Conversation Could Save Dad’s Life

This Awkward Conversation Could Save Dad’s Life

Remember when your dad pulled you aside to talk about what to expect as you grow into a young adult? So awkward, no one forgets. Well, now it’s payback time.

Now that your dad is growing older, it’s time to initiate a discussion about his health. Only two out of five men go to the doctor when they fear they have a serious medical condition, so asking your dad about his health could prompt him to be a bit more proactive. Men tend to keep their health problems close to home, so you are in a very good position to strike up a conversation with your dad.

Is Your Dad Caught Up on These Screenings

As men inch toward their 50’s, preventative screenings are top priority since men are at a high risk of developing certain cancers and diseases. Important screenings for men over age 45 include:

  • Colorectal screenings: Colon cancer remains one of the leading cancers in this country; staying current on your screenings can be a lifesaving decision. Healthy men should have their first colonoscopy by age 45. Men with a family history of colon cancer should have one sooner.
  • Prostate tests: These include a digital rectal exam (in which your health care provider manually checks for lumps or abnormalities), as well as a simple blood test for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
  • Biometric screenings: Often included in annual physical exams, measurements of your weight, waist circumference, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar help you and your doctor know what risks you have for various health problem like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The results can also help you and your dad know where you both can make lifestyle changes to improve your health and decrease your risks.

How to Encourage Your Dad to Visit the Doctor

Men shy away from visiting their doctor because they’re too busy or feel like it’s an inconvenience. But health screenings are the #1 way to catch problems early and drastically improve the length and quality of dad’s life.

Come from a place of love.

Recognize that your dad has already lived a full life. Before you were born, he had hopes, dreams, fears, insecurities—and he still does. Oftentimes, aging requires giving up some autonomy and depending on others. It’s not easy, but it is easier to ask for help when a child comes from a place of love.

Present the topic in a nonjudgmental way that gently asks for your dad’s input. You can say “I know that you’re very independent and able to do so many things, but serious health issues become more common as we age. Would you be up for scheduling a physical? It’ll take less than an hour.”

Make his health a team sport.

When you went to the dentist for the first time, your mom or dad sat in the hot seat with you so that you wouldn’t be afraid. When you sprained your ankle playing basketball, your dad reminded you that you’ll come back stronger than ever. Your parent took care of you for all those decades, easing your fears and building you up. Now it’s time to return the favor. Remember that no one likes visiting the doctor, regardless of age.

Offer to drive your dad to his colonoscopy appointment or sit with him during his blood work. By suggesting this, you make sure dad will get the help needed. Also, this emotional support can help de-escalate some of their distress in dealing with these health concerns alone.

Make a pact with pops.

Whether you dad is receptive to your suggestions or not, continue to keep an honest and continual line of communication open. You can say, “I love you dad. I want to make sure I am aware of anything that is troubling you or questions you might have about your health. Can we make a verbal agreement that you will keep informing me about your health, including physical and emotional concerns, so I can help you?”

Even if he shies away, knowing that his son or daughter cares about him may be the nudge dad needs to prioritize his health.

Ogden Clinic is a multi-specialty healthcare group that performs the full gamut of Men’s Health services including PSA screenings, BPH diagnosis and treatment, screening colonoscopies, biometric screenings, orthopedics, weight management, sexual health, chronic pain management, and much more. Schedule a visit for your dad today.