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Why Male Health Is Women's Work

Many males simply won't see a physician until prodded by the women in their lives.

My mom, Edith, was a spectacular cook who made sure my dad ate every meal—and low-fat, nutritious meals they were. "She focused on all my medical issues to keep me healthy," my father, Hal Teich, explains. But since my mother died seven years ago, things have changed. "Now it can sometimes get to 10 or 11 at night, and I've forgotten to eat dinner. I don't eat until my stomach starts hurting. I neglect myself," he says.

Is it any wonder that married men live an estimated eight years longer than single men? Women often step in where their husbands won't, urging them to take better care of themselves, and making sure they get to the doctor when ill. Like it or not, wives and mothers continue to be the main monitors and managers of family health care. Often, it's either pick up the slack now or pick up the pieces afterward, says Mayo Clinic cardiologist Brooks S. Edwards. "There are two tacks to take: Find a way to make men give a damn about their health, or make them take care of it anyway.

"I encourage women to recognize that the man in the house may not take control of his health independently," says Edwards. "Create a healthy environment. Encourage exercise. And remember that many males simply won't see a physician until prodded by the women in their lives."