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an older man turns his back on his wife who is trying to talk to him about going to get a colonoscopy

How Not to Talk With Your Baby Boomer Man About Seeing a Physician

Editor’s Note: This article was originally shared by our sister site, SkinCancer.net, and was written by Scott Matheny.

(Spouses, partners, significant others, brothers, children, parents, and friends of these men: this is for you)

I will be honest. I don’t like seeing the doctor.

Waiting room #1

I mean I don’t actually dislike looking at my doctor. I just don’t like anything about the process of going to see my physician. Calling and having to explain to someone I don’t know about why I want to see the doctor makes me very uncomfortable. Sitting in the waiting room and having people peeking over their Time magazine and looking at me is weird. With each new person entering the office I begin to wonder things like, “What illness do they have?” or “Do I know them?”

Waiting room #2

Then, I get to sit in the sterile half room with diagrams of human organs on the wall, bottles of odd-looking instruments on the counter, and the dreaded latex glove box affixed to the same, aforementioned wall. The odd questions from the physician’s assistant or nurse are disconcerting and the blood pressure contraption feels like it’s going to explode my bicep. This is all before the same aforementioned doctor waltzes in 28 minutes later.

What not to say

I get it. Going to the doctor is not fun, but it’s necessary and for those of you out there who are trying to get your guy to see his physician, here are some thoughts and I hope this helps. In my experience, guys around my age (55) and older will respond best if you don’t say these things:

  • “You need to see the doctor, you are not getting any younger.” We know this part already. We see the hairs dropping off our heads and sprouting up in other places. We look in the mirror, too.
  • “(Name the disease/condition) runs in your family.” We know this, too.
  • “Going to the doctor is not bad. It’s probably nothing.” It might not be bad for you, but I’m afraid what he might find and that feels very bad.
  • “You can take the time off. The plant/office/store can run without you.” Have you met my co-workers/subordinates? The place needs me! I’m indispensable!
  • “Don’t you want to see your grandkids grow up!?” Of course, I do, but this shaming is not helping me.
  • “I got you a morning appointment, no one you know will be there.” There might be people I know there?
  • “The needles are really small.” Enough said.
  • “You can see the male doctor on Wednesday about your men’s issues.” What if he takes the day off and I get someone else…!?!

Support us

Now, of course, not all men think this way. With my disclaimer out of the way, here is what I think about the best to communicate with us. Be sensitive and realize that underneath our seemingly tough exterior lie insecurities and fear. We fear being sick, losing loved ones, not providing for our family, and letting others down. We don’t want to seem weak. Like all humans, we need care and understanding, it’s just sometimes we don’t do a great job at expressing this.

We can still be someone’s hero

Appeal to our sense of duty by pointing out the very real benefits of good health in providing for those who rely on us. We may no longer be the financial breadwinners, but underneath we still want to feel that we are contributing and being in good health can allow us to do this. We still want to feel needed in a healthy way. Appealing to our continued important role in our family and community is very motivating to men who grew up with a deep sense of obligation.

Don’t sugarcoat

Be honest about what we will experience and what we are facing. Let us know that you will be there for us no matter what the doctor says. Offer to come with us, but don’t insist on it. We just want to know that it is safe to ask for help and be vulnerable. We just want you there for us.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ProstateCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • kenneth1955
    3 months ago

    I just got done reading about going to the doctor. That is true for some men. We do not like going to doctors. I was like that for many years. I felt I could take care of myself ( That does not mean that I did not take my kids to the doctor ) Being 63 I have many doctors now because when you get older things happen. Shots do not bother me. When I was younger my mother worked for the health department and I got shots all the time. But a man has to take charge of himself. I do not let a doctor or anyone do anything to me unless they have my permission. If I have a surgery you are only doing what we talked about nothing extra. I need to know what is being done. I do not give the doctor total control. This is my life and body…..I do not need anyone to come with me because it is my decision. Have a great day

  • Sam Collins
    3 months ago

    It must just be a man thing. My oncologist and I have become friends and he tells me that some doctors are the worst about getting checked. I have known men and women that have waited until the last minute to be checked. One of my friends waited until the last minute with eye problems which caused him to go blind. I also knew a lady that was so afraid of doctors because she had a bad experience with her doctor operating on her that she wouldn’t go to the doctor for her hepatitis c she got from bad blood that was given her many years ago. She died a bad and painful death. If you don’t go to the doctor for regular check ups on your health….. Well that is like preparing for retirement. There is more hope to get cured from anything if you catch it early. Doctors are not magical! They can only treat you with with the tools that research gives them. So do yourself a favour…. Man up get checked if not for yourself do it for your family. God bless

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