How my dad became one of the healthiest old guys I know

FATHER'S DAY, HEALTH, MEN, MEN'S HEALTHI’m the eldest of three girls, and my dad always appreciated my tomboy side growing up. I liked watching Hockey Night in Canada with him (he can shake a handful of nuts and toss them into his mouth like nobody I know), throwing a baseball back and forth in the backyard, playing ping pong and Frisbee at the beach.

Dad’s just naturally athletic and good at sports, and all those traditional “dad things” like fixing broken toys, pruning bushes, mowing the grass, painting (he’s painted several apartment rooms for me along the way!). He has that engineer’s ability to plan and problem-solve with ease, and brings a meticulous eye for precision to everything he does. He writes down the car mileage every time he gets gas. (I have that over-organizational gene, too, but in a much smaller dose. He’d hate to know that the spices in my spice rack aren’t labelled, the horror!)


It’s great to have a day to thank him for who he is and what he’s shown me over the years – and all the love and support. He’s kind of irreplaceable in my books and I guess that’s a lucky thing to be able to say about your dad, right? Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

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He turned 82 this year and a healthy 82 at that. No major problems knock on my IKEA particle board kitchen table. He had his cataracts done on both eyes and is still using drops on one that hasn’t healed as well as it should have. He says he doesn’t feel as energetic as he once did, but he’s out and about tending to the large yard and gardens, and tooling away in his garage on various projects and things on my mom’s honey-do list. He takes walks and reads just about anything he can get his hands on – books (who can resist a John le Carre bestseller), news magazines and newspapers, and plans a couple trips a year with my mom.

It’s a good life, all in all. He eats well (again, thanks to my mom) and takes care of himself without going overboard. He’s a conventional sort, but open-minded. He even went for monthly acupuncture sessions a couple years ago when he was having trouble with a stiff, achy shoulder.

And I think he’s blessed with good genes. He grew up on a farm in rural Ontario, Canada, and started chores from an early age (along with walking five miles to school in bitter snowstorms).

When you look at all the rising health problems for men, like prostate cancer, and the usual suspects of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and the increased risk of dementia as you age, well, he’s doing OK. It does come down to good daily living habits and being proactive about regular check-ups with your doctor. Studies show that men go to their doctor far less often than women and end up with a more serious diagnosis when they do go. Men don’t like going to a doctor any more than they like asking for directions! Why?

Men put their health last. They think as long as they’re fulfilling their role in society and doing their part, they’re good. But the top risks to men’s health – cardiovascular disease and stroke – are preventable. They just require some planning and attention.

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I’d like you to think of this as a call to action for you men out there (or the wives and daughters of a certain special guy). Have your cholesterol checked; control your cholesterol and blood pressure if they’re high; if you smoke, kick the habit; eat more fruits and vegetables and less saturated or transfats, and make sure you build 30 minutes of physical activity into your day, every day! Man up and schedule those regular checkups with your doctor – your family, especially those doting daughters like me, will thank you.

Dad, here’s to your good health, and many more hands of Euchre round the kitchen table.


Karen Hawthorne is managing editor at Health eTalk and Karen has worked for the National Post, Postmedia News, CBC Radio Vancouver, the Edmonton Journal, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record and the Cobourg Daily Star, reporting on health news and lifestyle trends for over 15 years.


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