They say that being healthy is the only thing that truly matters in the grand scheme of things, and as you get older, you will find out that the age-old adage is quite true. After all, if you don’t have your health, you can’t live out your best life – be it partying until you’re 80, or settling down with your partner and growing old together. For us gay men, health is a no.1 concern all of the time, but for those of you slowly approaching the fifty mark, there is a whole other host of challenges you need to be prepared for.
Don’t worry, modern medicine is awesome and super advanced, so whatever the problem, chances are that you will be able to overcome the condition. Coupling a regular visit to the doctor’s office with healthy lifestyle habits and some healthy changes to your routine is the key to lifelong well-being, so let’s take a look at the five health concerns you need to be aware of if you’re approaching fifty.
Stress, the silent killer
Unfortunately, chronic emotional and psychological stress has become a prevalent condition in the hectic modern world, and it doesn’t seem like this crazy, fast-paced reality we live in is going to let up any time soon. Yes, stress has become a “normal” part of our everyday life, and it’s slowly fueling a number of unhealthy processes in our bodies. And the older you get, the more important it becomes to manage and reduce stress and anxiety.
Now, while stress won’t make you drop dead all on its own, it will support a variety of health conditions that can ruin your long-term health. From preventing mild conditions such as insomnia and headaches, all the way to avoiding the increased risk of certain types of cancers, overcoming stress should be your top priority. Learn how to meditate, switch to a healthy diet plan, exercise regularly, and learn to let go.
Untreated mental illnesses
Tying directly into the issue of chronic stress, after you step over the fifty threshold, your risk of developing mental issues will start to increase. It’s Murphy’s law, really, as the longer you live, the more things will try to kill you. Don’t sweat it, it’s just nature, but it is important to stay on top of your mental health on a regular basis in order to catch a possible brain-degenerative illness in its early stages.
And stress doesn’t have to have anything to do with it, mental conditions tend to rear their ugly heads all on their own, so you need to be prepared. Again, stick to healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise, and strive to learn new things on a daily basis. That said, don’t forget to pay your doctor a visit once every six months.
Chronic back pain and discomfort
Chronic back pain is all-to-present nowadays, and unsurprisingly so, as so many people work sedentary jobs and spend most of their time sitting down, not really moving much throughout the day. As you might imagine, this can be disastrous for your posture and supporting musculature, and it can cause inflammation in the joints and the nerves coursing through your back and your legs.
Before you know it, you have a bulging disc or a pinched nerve in your low back. Now, before you try to force yourself to accept your fate and live with the pain, be sure to research informative websites such as that of Dr Timothy Steel who specializes in neurosurgery and has all of the information you might need about treatment and recovery. Remember, back problems can significantly hinder your quality of life, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to fix the problem with the right information and a professional’s help.
Erectile disfunction and a lowered libido
Erectile dysfunction might not be a life-threatening condition, but for a gay man who’s not ready to retire his jockstrap, it can be just as bad. After all, you’re not 80 for God’s sake, you should be able to enjoy a thriving sex life for decades to come!
To make this a reality, though, you will need to be prepared for the possibility that your libido will drop and that you may start to experience signs of erectile dysfunction. Again, don’t worry, it’s only natural, and if you combine regular exercise with other healthy habits, and strive to banish stress from your life, you should have no problem in the bedroom and beyond.
Heart disease and related conditions
Heart disease, on the other hand, can kill you, so don’t mess around. Keep in mind that one in four deaths in the US alone is caused by heart disease, so make sure you go get your ticker checked at least once a year when you reach fifty. Additionally, you will need to change your lifestyle habits if you haven’t already. Diet and exercise are your best friends, so no more French fries and ice cream – from now on, your routine should be hitting the gym at least three times a week and eating healthy, wholesome foods.
Gay men love to joke around that you become officially old when you celebrate your thirtieth birthday, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you’re only as old as you feel, so make sure to keep an eye out for these conditions, and develop a healthy routine that will safeguard your health for decades to come.
QUEERGURU Correspondent PETER MINKOFF is a gay health and lifestyle writer at QUEER VOICES magazine. Besides writing, he worked as a freelance fashion stylist in Europe and Australia. A true craft beer and soy latte aficionado, he loves spending his days at the beach and visiting second hand stores on a daily basis. Follow Peter on TWITTER for more tips.