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The need for men to get in for an annual tune-up

My husband always gets a little nervous whenever I start a sentence with the phrase, “You know, I’ve been thinking …” Over the years, he has come to realize that it usually means whatever comes next will either cost money or require an expenditure of his time. Quite often it is an idea for a project inspired by a recently viewed program on HGTV. Once he thinks about it, he gets on board with it fairly quickly.

So, it occurred to me after thinking about last week’s column on the importance of preventive maintenance for our aging bodies — specifically for our husband’s aging bodies — that one tip needed further explanation. Tip number seven simply stated, “Get regular medical check-ups.” Given that only one opportunity remains for me to provide you with health information before Men’s Health Month comes to an end, I thought it would be a good idea to give you some additional explanation on that point. What should those regular medical check-ups be? What is involved? What are they looking for? Why should I be concerned — especially if I feel okay? So here are a few more words on exactly what your “annual tune-up” should involve.

First, a few words about the importance of having a primary care physician — commonly referred to as a family physician. This is the doctor that is your first line of defense — the one you call first whenever you have a health issue, and the one who keeps all of your medical information centralized in one place. This doctor will help you concentrate on prevention and keep you on course to take care of the little things before they become more serious. He or she will help to keep you out of the emergency department or will refer you to a specialist as needed if a more serious problem begins to develop. And this doctor will know you the best and can be depended upon to schedule you for whatever medical tests you need.

Paying attention to your health means scheduling annual checkups and screenings. Checkups are regular visits to your family doctor — a time set aside to make sure you are still “running properly.” Depending upon your age and overall health, these generally occur once or twice each year. Screenings are actual medical tests — blood tests or various scopes or x-rays to be sure there is nothing occurring that will cause difficulty for you in the future.

So, here is your next “honey-do list” and the last one you will be getting from me. Once again, it is provided by Healthgrades.

1. Get regular physical exams. Depending upon your age and overall health, men generally should have a physical exam every one to three years. As we age, however, these exams can become necessary once or twice every year — more things need watching the older we get. These exams give your doctor the opportunity to monitor specific health issues to be sure they are not getting worse. You will have the opportunity to discuss the results of various screening tests and be given the various immunizations that are necessary to keep you healthy. No, immunizations are not just for kids.

2. Prostate cancer screening involves both a manual exam and a blood test called a PSA test. The American Urological Association considers this type of screening to be most beneficial for men between the ages of 55 and 69 years of age. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, screening may start earlier.

3. STD screening tests look for evidence of infections acquired through sexual contact before symptoms become apparent. Your personal risk factors and lifestyle will determine the need for this screening.

4. Cholesterol and blood pressure tests help to determine your risk for heart attack and stroke long before any symptoms of these diseases appear. Consider them your best line of defense in avoiding these diseases. The American Heart Association recommends you begin cholesterol testing at age 20 and get them every five years. If high cholesterol is detected, tests should be done at least annually. If you develop heart disease or other ailments where blood pressure and cholesterol levels play a role, these regular lab tests help your physician determine the best course of treatment for you.

5 . A diabetes test analyzes the blood sugar, or glucose levels, present in your blood. A level that is too high indicates you have diabetes or prediabetes, which means you are at a high risk of developing diabetes if lifestyle changes are not made or medication is not started. The American Diabetes Association recommends this screening every three years once you turn 45 years of age. The CDC, however, does not recommend this test unless you have symptoms of diabetes or have a family history of it. Discuss this one with your physician.

6. A colonoscopy is your best line of defense against colon cancer. No one likes the thought of it, but the alternative is much worse. Over the years, the prep for this radiology exam has greatly improved, and the conscious sedation used during the procedure works beautifully. During the exam, a scope examines the condition of the lining of your colon and can actually locate and remove any suspicious growths long before they become cancerous. Causes of any unusual symptoms can also be determined by this exam, which aids effective treatment of intestinal disorders. Beginning at age 50, this is a test that should be done every 10 years — more often if your symptoms dictate or if colon cancer is a part of your family medical history.

7. A bone density (DEXA) test measures bone mass and gives a good indication of how prone you will be to fracture. As we age, we become more susceptible to osteoporosis, a condition that leaves your bones looking like spider webs and incapable of supporting you. It is a painful condition and, thanks to the development of this test and a variety of medications, is now preventable. The test is a simple radiology exam done while you lie still on an exam table. One in four men will develop this disease, so this test should be done by the time you turn 70 — sooner if you have rheumatoid arthritis, a family history of osteoporosis or have suffered a bone fracture. A history of smoking and /or drinking also leaves you more susceptible for osteoporosis, so bone density screening should be seriously considered.

8. Hearing and vision screenings get more important as we age. Many of you have probably already noticed that eventually your arms are simply not long enough to hold things far enough away for you to see. Traffic signs may not be as clear as they once were. And you may be turning up the volume on your TV or asking your spouse to repeat what they have just said. If any of this sounds familiar, it is time to get your vision and hearing checked. Vision testing can also find eye diseases long before you notice symptoms so a baseline vision test should be done by age 40. The same is true for hearing exams. Good vision and hearing help to keep you safe so don’t put these diagnostic tests off.

9. Oral health check-ups include getting a teeth cleaning, an exam of your mouth and gums, and x-rays of your mouth. These check-ups help you keep the ability to chew and help your dentist diagnose oral cancer, gum disease, mouth infections and other conditions that can actually spread to other parts of your body. A visit to the dentist once or twice every year should be done throughout your life.

10. An abdominal aortic aneurysm screening detects bulges in your aorta. This is the main blood vessel that carries blood from your heart; part of it travels down through your abdomen to supply the lower body with blood. Left undetected and untreated, this aorta can burst, causing internal bleeding, shock and death. Screening for weaknesses in this aorta can easily be done with a short ultrasound exam. Men who have smoked at all during their lives should have this done once between the ages of 65 and 75.

So, the key takeaway here is you need to pay as close attention to the health of your body as you do to the condition of your furnace, your car, your lawnmower, your four-wheeler … or anything else you care about or you want to hold up over time. Good health makes for a much more enjoyable life and keeps you around longer to help your wife when she thinks of that “one more thing” that needs to be done. Just kidding …. odds are you’re a pretty good guy and she’d want you around anyway. Now … go make that appointment with your doctor.

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NURSING HOMES

The usual senior living activity calendars and senior center menus are not being published to avoid confusion. Due to the coronavirus and the vulnerability of the elderly population, daily life in the senior living facilities and senior centers has changed dramatically.

All living facilities have closed their doors to public visitation, and the activity calendars have been modified to allow for one-to-one room visits only and individualized activities to keep residents engaged and active as much as possible while remaining within the health and safety guidelines provided by state health experts. Group games are being substituted with individualized activities residents can do in their respective rooms. Staff are providing supplies as well as “overhead announcement bingo and trivia” games and “hallway games” that can be played in individual rooms or by sitting within individual room doorways. YouTube and DVDs are being utilized to provide religious services. A big dose of gratitude and appreciation goes out to all senior care staff for their creativity, caring and perseverance through a difficult situation.

All senior centers have also been closed to any center-based activity. Until they re-open, no information is being published that talks about activities typically available at these centers. Meals continue to be delivered. Some centers are also preparing meals to be picked up. Menus are printed below for those centers who are either preparing take-out or providing home delivered meals. Questions can be directed to the individual centers at the numbers all listed below.

SENIOR CENTERS

Alpha-Mastodon Center

906-875-3315

Amasa Center

906-822-7284

The Amasa Center is a curbside pick up-only kitchen for now. Call ahead for Tuesdays-Thursdays.

Breen Center

906-774-5110 — Opening Monday

Limited seating from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Beef stew.

Tuesday: Scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, biscuits and gravy.

Wednesday: Ham, scalloped potatoes, corn.

Thursday: Beef stroganoff, noodles, peas.

Crystal Falls Center

Head cook: Lucy Korhonen

906-875-6709

Crystal Lake Center – Iron Mountain

(906) 239-0278

Home-delivered meals only. Menu for week —

Monday: Cheddar turkey casserole, cauliflower, dinner roll.

Tuesday: Barbeque beef sandwich, potato wedges, broccoli.

Wednesday: Cheese omelet, oatmeal, spiced peaches.

Thursday: Smothered pork chops, mashed potatoes, carrots.

Friday: Chicken sandwich with cheese, chips, baked beans.

For more information, call Christine McMahon at 906-774-2256

Felch Center

906-246-3559

Opening Monday. Limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Menu for the week —

Monday: Lasagna, garlic bread, green beans.

Tuesday: Biscuits and gravy, hash browns, applesauce.

Wednesday: Polish sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, peas.

Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Florence County, Wis.

715-528-4890

Director: Tiffany White

Home-delivered meals only. Meal menu for week —

Monday: Gnocchi with alfredo sauce, side salad, broccoli, fruit.

Tuesday: Chili with shredded cheese and onions, cornbread, watermelon.

Wednesday: Baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, buttermilk biscuit, fruit, pumpkin bars.

Thursday: Chef’s salad with white beans, bread sticks, cottage cheese with peaches.

Friday: All centers closed for holiday.

Fence Center/Town Hall

715-336-2980 – RSVP for meal at 855-528-2372

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Florence Community Center/Town Hall

RSVP for meal at 715-528-4261

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Tipler Town Hall

715-674-2320 – RSVP for meals.

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hillcrest Senior Dining Center, Aurora

715-589-4491 – RSVP for meals

Same as ADRC menu, home-delivered only.

Hermansville Center

Coordinator: Pam Haluska

906-498-7735

Iron River Center

906-265-6134

Opening Monday for meals through Wednesday Limited seating from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Home-delivered and/or takeout only on Thursdays. Menu for week —

Monday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwich, potato wedges, cauliflower, fruit, milk.

Tuesday: Fish, macaroni and cheese, green beans, fruit, milk.

Wednesday: Tuna noodle casserole, salad, hard-boiled egg, tomato slice.

Thursday: Hot dog, potato salad, calico beans.

Niagara Northwoods Senior Cafe and Center

Meal site manager: Corrie Maule, 715-251-1603

Senior center director: Jill Anderson, 715-251- 4154

Norway Center

Director: Susie Slining

906-563-8716

The center will remain closed; however, takeout meals will be prepared for pick up — must call ahead and wear a mask when picking up. Menu for the week —

Monday: Pork chop, mashed potatoes and gravy, island blend vegetables, fruit, juice, milk, dessert.

Tuesday: Welcome Summer dinner — brat on a bun, baked beans, potato salad, fresh fruit, juice, milk, ice cream bar.

Wednesday: Finnish pancake, sausage, hash browns, strawberries, orange juice, milk, muffin.

Thursday: Shepherd’s pie, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, fruit, juice, milk, bread, dessert.

Sagola Center

906-542-3273

Now open noon to 1 p.m. with limited seating Tuesday through Thursday. Menu for the week —

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe on a bun, potato wedges, three-bean salad, peaches.

Wednesday: Polish sausage, sauerkraut, baked potatoes, mixed vegetables, applesauce.

Thursday: Chicken casserole, carrots, tropical fruit.

FARM TO FAMILY PROGRAM

The food box pick-up schedule —

— Kingsford: 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, at 621 N. Hooper St. (across from Trico);

— Sagola: noon to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 8, senior center parking lot;

— Felch: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 8, Felch Community Center on M-69;

— Iron River: noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, Iron River Senior Center parking lot.

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