Everyone has heard of menopause and, at the very least, knows that it’s something that happens as women get older. Men also have what’s often referred to as ‘a change of life,’ but there’s not nearly as much information available to help them understand and cope. Without the necessary education and support, it’s easy for men to suffer silently through normal physical and emotional changes that can have a big impact on their personal relationships. If you’re a family caregiver or the concerned adult child of a man 50 or older, it’s time to learn about the role that andropause is likely playing in your older male loved one’s life.
What is Andropause?
Andropause is often called ‘male menopause’ or a ‘mid-life crisis.’ The reality is that andropause doesn’t have a lot in common with menopause. After all, women experience a sudden and dramatic hormonal shift when menopause hits. Men, on the other hand, have their hormones drop slowly, at the rate of approximately 1 percent per year after the age of 30. Significant issues with andropause are most likely to occur in men 50 and older, which makes sense considering that their hormone levels may have dipped as much as 20 percent by their 50th birthday.
How Does Andropause Change the Elderly Male Lifestyle?
Men going through andropause can suffer from a long list of complications. Unfortunately, the lack of education about this condition has led to social stigmas, misunderstandings and additional problems that further complicate life for aging men. The most common symptoms include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased sexual function and/or drive
- Back pain
- Behavioral, emotional and psychological changes
- Tender or swollen chest
- Increased central and upper body fat
- Loss of muscle strength
- Decreased muscle mass
Men dealing with the effects of andropause also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular issues.
Andropause and the Mid-Life Crisis
Men with andropause may psychologically and emotionally begin to regress to a younger age, which will naturally impact their behavior. Some refer to this as ‘reverse puberty.’ In other words, a man who has been relatively happy and satisfied with his marriage, career, friendships and material possessions may begin to feel his level of satisfaction declining every year. It’s typical for older men to feel the need for more male friends, and they might look toward flashy or trendy purchases such as a sports car to fulfill their changing needs.
Spouses and family members who don’t understand or recognize the symptoms of andropause may end up deriding an aging man’s behavior instead of trying to help him adjust to his natural hormonal changes. It’s important to be aware that andropause can reduce a man’s self-confidence and motivation, and this may lead to depression. Andropause and menopause, combined with the reduced social stigma, are also likely contributors to the steadily rising divorce rate in Americans over the age of 50.
There isn’t a single magic solution for andropause issues, although some doctors prescribe hormone treatments. Older men may also feel less disruptions in their life if they incorporate a regular exercise routine, a healthy diet, counseling and increased socialization, along with education about andropause and family members who offer a supportive environment.
In-Home Senior Care
Does your elderly family member need assistance throughout the day? Whether they simply need a quick check-in or require someone to sit with them all day, the team of non-medical, in-home Metro Detroit senior caregivers at Second Family Senior Care is here to help!