Barbara Fradkin – Special to FLORIDA TODAY

Reader question:  My husband won’t go to the doctor for checkups. What should I do?  

Answer:  In the U.S., men die (on average) five years earlier than women, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The top three causes of death for men are heart disease, cancer and unintentional injury.

It goes without saying that men would benefit from early detection of nearly every malady that could result in death.

And yet… the Cleveland Clinic published a study last year that reconfirmed male unwillingness to make routine doctor appointments.

It seems most men feel that they are strong and healthy — so why go to the doctor?

Here’s why: Healthy men in their 30s and 40s should start planning preventative measures to keep themselves healthy as they age.

This is when to start thinking about your cholesterol, blood pressure and all of the simple screenings.

Screenings that were developed to do exactly that — to SCREEN.

Men also should be aware of their own family health history.

We no longer live in days of our grandfathers. Back then, men worked completely unaware of any hidden diagnoses or health problems. Until they just abruptly died.

Some men find it very difficult to talk about their health.

They may complain about chest pain but then wave it off as nothing more than indigestion. And if they do see the doctor, they are quick to avoid discussion by saying “everything is fine!”

Discussion might mean addressing a health problem with a (gasp) change to their eating habits, exercise schedule or (double gasp) alcohol consumption.

So, to avoid feeling annoyed or frustrated, they just don’t go to the doctor.

Avoidance also means they won’t feel “judged” by their doctors in case of a diagnosis. Sigh.

Listen up, guys: High blood pressure, diabetes, urinary issues or a whole host of other medical conditions are not going to magically go away just because you don’t want to see the doctor.

Most things are curable or manageable, and with a few daily changes you can continue a normal, healthy lifestyle.

Ignore your health at your peril!

Heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease have long-term effects and a difficult recovery, if exacerbated by neglect.

Urologist Bradley Gill of the Cleveland Clinic puts it this way to his male patients: “You rotate your tires and change your oil. What you don’t want to do is wait until there’s smoke coming out from under the hood and the car stops running.”

What do I say? Man up — and get to the doctor before you have symptoms.


One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. To submit a question, send an email to or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging at

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker, Certified Care Manager and the Director for One Senior Place, Viera.