Keeping the family healthy

Women may not even realize the profound role they play in their loved ones’ health.

How women can talk to men about health

In many families, women drive the health care decisions for everyone in the house, including their husband/ partner. Women may not even realize the profound role they play in their loved ones’ health. Surveys show most men get most of their health information from the women in their lives.

“Women have an important opportunity to be a positive influence on the men in their lives who may be conditioned not to heed warning signs of pain or illness,” said Sandra E. Brooks, M.D., MBA. “When being ‘tough’ translates into ignoring serious symptoms, it can be harmful to their health.”

Women can reassure men that it takes courage and strength to admit to pain, not feeling well or needing help. Taking charge of their health is a way for men to play a role in ensuring they continue to be there for their family.

“There is a delicate balance between expressing concern and nagging. Try to look for nonthreatening moments to talk about his health and avoid criticism,” Dr. Brooks said. “Reassure him that your goal is for you both to be around for many years to come.”

Women can also make an impression on their family’s health by being a good role model. Start making healthy lifestyle changes yourself and ask your spouse/partner to join you or at least support you. Begin by exercising together. You will be able to motivate one another, and you will find it is a nice way to spend additional time together.

Still no luck? If you’re concerned about a specific health issue, ask a male friend — someone your partner respects — to talk to him about his health.

“The bottom line is to approach men with a message of love and caring,” Dr. Brooks said. “Stress their importance in your life and the lives of your children, and that your concern comes from a place of wanting to live the best life you can — together.”

Don’t forget about the boys in your life

Historically, in our culture men learn early on to be strong and self-reliant. Although our culture is changing, traditionally boys are taught that pain is a sign of weakness. In many cases pain tells us that something is wrong and we need to do something differently. Teach boys that it’s OK to go to the doctor and to ask the doctor questions.

“Try to be balanced in the messages you give to daughters and sons when it comes to taking care of themselves,” Dr. Brooks said. “In addition, fathers can be extremely important role models for their children. When children see dad taking care of himself, it supports the messages they receive from mom. Our health is a precious resource; we must do everything we can to protect it.”


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