Healthy Living in the North

Aging with dignity, respect and purpose

This is the last in a series of posts about social connections and healthy aging. You’ve got one week left to show us how you, your family, and your community stay connected. Enter our photo contest for your chance at great weekly prizes and a grand prize valued at $250!

Three people posing for photo following a running race.

Supported by family in more ways than one, Holly’s recent marathon finish provided her with a chance to reflect on our aging journeys and the importance of supporting everyone to age with dignity, respect and purpose.

On a recent vacation back home, I was reminded of the impacts of aging in my own family.

I got to spend some time with my two remaining grandparents. They are now in their nineties (92 and 95, to be exact) and both of them continue to live in their own homes. Due to recent health issues, they have had to become more reliant on family and neighbours to help with tasks like putting out the garbage, gardening and rides to and from their many health care appointments. Both are strong women who have raised large families, and neither likes that they have to ask others for help. Seeing them, I was reminded of why social connections like the ones we’ve been talking about for the last month on this blog are so important to helping seniors age in place.

In a different generation, my father, a lifelong runner, just celebrated his 65th birthday and had planned on commemorating the event by running another marathon with myself and my siblings. However, after suffering a knee injury, he was told that running was no longer an option for him and he was not able to take part. Although my brother and I ran in his honour, I know that my dad was sad that he couldn’t run right along with us and participate in an activity which has been a part of his identity.

For me, the common threads that weave these experiences together are dignity, respect and purpose.

We leave school and charge into our early twenties looking for purpose. Seeking respect in our jobs, life, and from our family and friends. From that – and especially through our independence – we develop a sense of dignity or satisfaction that we have worth and value in the world.

However, as we age, those skills and abilities that we have worked so hard to grow start to slowly chip away. Our mobility may decrease. Our memories are no longer as sharp. Our roles and responsibilities as employees or parents may decrease. We spend our leisure time differently. In the later stages of aging, many of the tasks that many of us take for granted (driving, bathing, cooking our own meals, etc.) are often reassigned as well. We may start to question our purpose and our worth, our sense of self.

But just because someone has a wrinkle or two doesn’t mean that they don’t have worth, purpose, or dignity. And this very thought can have serious health impacts. The idea that older adults can’t or shouldn’t be given the same opportunities as others is referred to as ageism – “the most tolerated social prejudice in Canada.” Countering ageism – supporting everyone to age with dignity, respect and purpose – is key to keeping our communities and loved ones healthy.

We can do more to support people to age with dignity, respect and purpose. In health care, we’ve already made great advances in how we support seniors to live more independently, but what about in our own lives? Do you recognize the contributions of seniors in your community? Do you recruit and engage adults of all ages in planning and projects? Do you reach out to older adults who may be shy with a phone call or a visit?

Our previous healthy aging blog posts have talked about the significance of removing barriers to inclusion as people age. They’ve also highlighted the importance of bringing the generations together, whether within a family or a community to support the sharing of stories, skills and information. Volunteering our time and staying connected with social groups also give us meaningful work to do. Being included and having a role to play is a great way to show someone that they’re needed and valued – at any age.

“Being accorded dignity and respect as elders in the community contributes to preserving a sense of well-being, including the ability to share knowledge, having a purpose and feeling as though one is making a difference.” Let’s Talk about Healthy Aging and Seniors’ Wellness, Northern Health, 2013

So, as we all continue on our own aging journeys, let us be mindful of the ways in which we show value to those who have gone on ahead of us and gratefulness to those younger than us who have our backs. Sharing running stories and training advice with my dad was so valuable to me, and his purpose as a “runner” was served in a different way. However, sharing the experience with my brother (he is 16 years my junior) gave me new-found respect for the abilities of my aging body.


Photo Contest

From Oct. 12 – Nov. 8, send in a photo showing how you stay connected and healthy for your chance to win great prizes (including a $250 grand prize) and help your community!

The challenge for Week 4 is: “Show us how older adults volunteer in your community!” Submit your photo at http://blog.northernhealth.ca/connect.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Show us how you stay connected and win!

This fall, we’re running a contest (launching next week – stay tuned!) to share your stories of connecting and community! We want your photos and we’re giving you the chance to win $250 just for showing us how you stay connected!

Photo on top of a blanket.

A photo of Holly and her grandma on top of a blanket that her grandma made. How do you engage in deeper, richer connections in your community, and how can we ensure that others who are vulnerable, such as seniors, are valued and supported to connect, too?

I always looked forward to visiting my grandmother when I was young. She taught me to knit scarves for my Barbie dolls, we went on outings to the mall and the bakery, and she let me help make her famous cherry cheesecake tarts – which we then delivered as gifts to local shopkeepers.

As an adult, I also came to recognize that my Gram was extremely involved in her community. She would chat regularly with all the ladies in the wool department at Sears, she volunteered with the Canadian Cancer Society selling daffodils every April, she belonged to and regularly attended “the club” (the local seniors centre), and she was skilled in the crafts of sewing and knitting, often working on special projects for others.

I now realize how lucky I was to have the time with her that I did, as well as how fortunate she was to be healthy enough to drive, to have access to opportunities, and to have family close by. Too often, we hear of people getting older, losing their independence and their social networks, and lacking the support to keep contributing to, and stay involved in, the communities they love. Without a doubt, this has a negative effect on their health.

Here in northern B.C., our population is aging at a much faster rate than the rest of the province. Combine that with the fact that our region is spread over an area the size of France, many of our communities are rural and remote, and most of us have seven cold and snowy winter months and what do you get? A population of aging adults who have a lot of hurdles to jump just to get out the front door!

It’s time to change this story! I want all people – young, old, and everywhere in between – from all communities to benefit from staying engaged the way that my Gram benefited and the way that connecting with her benefited me!

This fall, we’re running a contest (launching next week – stay tuned!) to share your stories of connecting and community! We want your photos and we’re giving you the chance to win $250 just for showing us how you stay connected!

We want to draw attention to the importance of fostering welcoming and inclusive communities and the idea of social connectedness. How can we engage in deeper, richer connections in our own communities, and how can we ensure that others who are vulnerable, such as seniors, are valued and supported to connect, too?

The Ask:

Each week, we will post a theme related to social connectedness and ask that you submit an original photo related to that theme. Starting October 12, the contest page will be updated with a new photo category. And keep your eyes on the Northern Health Matters blog for great content to inspire you on the health benefits of social inclusion, how to support aging with dignity, and more!

The Prizes:

Each week, we will draw for a prize from all of the submissions for that week. At the end of the contest, a grand prize will be awarded to the photo from the entire contest period that best showcases the meaning of social connectedness – and that inspiring photographer will win $250 to put towards a healthy living facility or activity in their community.

So get your cameras and smart phones ready – the contest will be starting soon and I can’t wait to see how you, your family, friends, and community support social connectedness!

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Routine isn’t always a bad thing!

Child playing on playground equipment.

Schedule outdoor time for children every day: The best way to encourage kids to sit less is to let them go outside.

The days are getting shorter and school doors are open, which brings homework, extracurricular activities and lots of time spent going from one place to the next in the car.

It’s a routine that we’re all used to, but an unfortunate side effect for the whole family is that more time is spent being sedentary. Although there’s often not much we can do about screen time (computer use) at school or work, there are ways to maintain those healthy summer routines into the fall and winter and keep yourself and your family moving.

At home:

  • Be a healthy role model: Set limits for your own recreational screen time as well as theirs. This includes your TVs, tablets, computers and phones.
  • Do chores together as a family that encourage getting outside: Raking leaves, shovelling snow, walking the dog, or biking to the store for milk instead of driving.
  • Schedule outdoor time for children every day: The best way to encourage kids to sit less is to let them go outside.
  • Be an active chauffeur: Don’t just sit in the car waiting on kids to finish up their activities. Use that time to get moving yourself and use active transportation when possible.

At work:

  • Build activity into your commute: Walk or bike to work when possible or carpool with a spouse or neighbour and walk from their workplace to your own.
  • Schedule movement: Set an alarm to go off every hour to remind yourself to stretch, move around, take some time away from the task, give your eyes a break and refresh your mind.
  • Take a walking meeting: Take your telephone call on the go while you stretch your legs, or encourage meeting participants to walk around the building while you talk.
  • Step up: Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Escape the lounge: Use some of your lunch break for physical activity. Get out of the lunchroom and go for a walk.
  • Go old school: Walk to a co-worker’s office to talk to them instead of calling or emailing.

Establishing active routines and spending less time being sedentary will leave you feeling happier and more alert and will improve your fitness and your social life! Making these small changes in our behaviours at home and work will over time become part of new, healthier routines.


A version of this article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of A Healthier You magazine.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Spreading men’s health across the north!

Two speakers at a conference.

Holly Christian (Northern Health) and Trevor Kehoe (First Nations Health Authority) speak at Men’s Health Works. What can you do to promote men’s health?

When working in an emerging area of health promotion in the north, it can often feel like you’re the lone soldier on the battlefield. The battle we are currently waging is men’s health.

Statistics on the cost of men’s health in Canada released by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation are startling to say the least and highlight the ongoing need for prevention work.

Northern Health has been a key player in the men’s health movement in Canada, gaining much attention for the cause with the release of the insightful Where are the Men? report. That’s not to say there aren’t other groups working on men’s health in larger centres. There are also groups focused on specific men’s health issues. We’re likely all aware of the Movember phenomenon and many other pockets of prostate cancer work being done.

However, men’s health is complex and involves more than just their testicles. The risks for chronic disease (including sedentary behaviour, obesity, poor diet, stress and smoking) are showing up in all men of all age groups. In fact, there’s never been a better time to come out from behind the 8-ball (pardon the pun) and figure out our next move.

Men’s Health Works

On June 8, 2015, thanks to the Centre for Excellence in Cancer Prevention and the BC Healthy Living Alliance, researchers, health promotion staff and community members came together in Prince George for the Men’s Health Works workshop. It was a great opportunity to showcase, for a northern audience, men’s health work happening across B.C. and beyond!

Men’s Health Works covered topics including men’s health in the workplace, suicide and depression, First Nations men’s health, and a highlight of POWERPLAY and Working on Wellness, two research projects taking place in northern, male-dominated workplaces (to learn more about Working on Wellness, check out the latest issue of A Healthier You magazine!).

The passion for men’s health in the room was evident! The fact that the men’s health message is spreading is a testament to the work of not only researchers and health authorities like Northern Health, but the amazing work of community members who are making men’s health a priority and talking about it at home, work, school, and on the ground!

My key takeaway messages from the workshop were:

  • Women have a huge role to play in the health of men. As mothers, sisters, daughters, spouses, aunties, cousins and friends, they need to encourage and support the men in their lives to prioritize their health.
  • Workplaces are in a unique position to support men’s health in an environment where men spend most of their time. Policies that support health both at work and after work lead to healthier, happier workers.
  • Local champions for men’s health can have a big impact in their communities.
  • Current Canadian research is leading to the development of resources aimed at men that address depression, suicide, and social isolation.

What can you do to help promote men’s health?

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Cancer and men

Daffodil

Daffodils are popping up all over northern B.C. thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Month campaign. It’s a great chance to think about cancer prevention, screening, and treatment.

Flowers may be blooming in the Lower Mainland, but in northern B.C., you’re hard-pressed to find spring blossoms in April. There are daffodils everywhere, though, thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Month! The annual campaign raises funds and shows support for those living with cancer.

We likely all know of someone who has been affected by cancer and, according to the Where are the Men? report, men in northern B.C. have higher rates of new cancer diagnoses and are dying of cancer more often than women.

I sat down with Margaret Jones-Bricker, regional director for the Northern Region of the Canadian Cancer Society BC and Yukon Division to talk about cancers affecting men and what men can do to decrease their risk.

Are men at a higher risk for cancer than women?

When you look at cancers that only men can get, their risk is 100% greater. Such is the case with prostate and testicular cancers. Overall cancer risk and risk for specific cancers can be determined by a lot of other factors besides sex like lifestyle, genetics, age and family history. In Canada, men have a 45% lifetime probability of developing cancer compared with 41% for women.

What cancers should men be particularly concerned about?

The three most common types of cancer in men are lung, colorectal and prostate. Prostate cancer accounts for about one-quarter (24%) of all new cancer cases in men. Breast cancer rounds out the top four most frequently diagnosed cancers in Canada, but is much less common in men.

In the north, we have higher rates of tobacco use, which means higher rates of lung cancer. Smoking is related to more than 85% of lung cancer cases in Canada and men develop lung cancer slightly more often than women.

Approximately 1,000 Canadian men were diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014. It is the most common cancer in young men 15–29 years of age.

What can men do to decrease their risk of cancer?

The number one thing men can do is if you smoke, stop!

Other ways to decrease cancer risk include lifestyle changes related to physical activity and healthy eating. The Canadian Cancer Society has some great nutrition and fitness recommendations.

Occupational and environmental factors can also impact our health; these include our home and work environments. Have your home tested for radon, which is a factor in lung cancer, second only to tobacco use.

What screening options are available to men? How do they know if they should be screened?

Approximately 5-10 per cent of cancers are related to specific inherited genetic abnormalities. The fact that 1 or 2 family members have been diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean that you will also develop cancer. This is especially true if the family member is not a first-degree relative or if the cancers are of different types. It is important to discuss screening with your doctor if you have a family history of cancer. Your doctor may suggest testing at an earlier age or using a different test than recommended by the provincial guidelines.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that men (and women) age 50 and over have a stool test (guaiac-based fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test) at least every 2 years. There is convincing evidence that stool tests with appropriate followup can significantly reduce deaths from colorectal cancer.

Prostate cancer seems to be different. Large, reliable studies haven’t been able to tell us clearly whether it’s a good thing to use these tests to look for prostate cancer. So, we recommend that you talk to your doctor about your risk of prostate cancer and about the benefits and risks of finding it early.

Daffodil

In northern B.C., men have higher rates of new cancer diagnoses and are dying of cancer more often than women. There are, however, things that men can do to decrease their risk of cancer.

Are all cancers preventable?

Up to 50% of all cancers are preventable. Certainly your risk of contracting lung cancer is hugely preventable by quitting smoking.

For other cancers, we don’t always know what the cells in our bodies will do, but we can do our best by following a healthy lifestyle, getting physically active, eating more vegetables and fruit, and limiting our consumption of red meats and alcohol.

Investing in the best research has led to tremendous progress against cancer. We know more about what causes cancer, how it develops, how best to treat it and how we can improve the quality of life of people living with cancer. Today, over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years after their diagnosis. In the 1940s, survival was about 25%.

What resources are available for men looking for more information?

The Canadian Cancer Society has information specific to men and downloadable pamphlets on everything from cancer prevention to diagnosis and treatments:

We strongly encourage smokers to use the supports that are available to help them quit smoking and to get access to nicotine replacement therapies through the Lung Association’s QuitNow and the new QuitNow Men websites.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Unpack your snacks!

Reusable water bottle, lunch bag, and containers on a table.

Can you spot the spork? How do you reduce waste in your lunches, sips, and snacks?

Waste created from food is not a new topic. I’ve been learning about how to be more environmentally friendly since I was a child. I grew up with curbside recycling, we had compost bins in our school lunch rooms and I even buy local when possible, but is that good enough? Nowadays our food comes with so much packaging that it can be hard to avoid. So what’s a concerned citizen to do?

When I have questions like these, I take them to the experts at the Northern Environmental Action Team (NEAT), located in northeast B.C. Karen Mason-Bennett is a program coordinator there and is a wealth of information on all things green!

So why is food packaging is such a problem? According to Karen, it isn’t just the fact that we are creating waste when we eat a packaged food. It also takes a lot of energy to make and ship the packaging before it’s ever used. Not to mention all of the human energy (labour) involved and the fact that many single serving portions tend to require a larger package as well – think individually-wrapped granola bars in a cardboard box!

All of this packaging exists for a reason, however – our own desire for convenience. The demand for these products has gone up as many more people are choosing prepackaged snacks out of convenience and the desire for portion control. We want more value for our time, and being able to spend less time preparing and packing our food is something we’re willing to pay for. Food packaging is also used in some cases to extend the shelf life of a product. For example, cucumbers that are shrink-wrapped in plastic are said to last 20% longer.

An eye-opening exercise to try the next time you go grocery shopping is to remove all of the “extra” packaging from your food as you put grocery items away in your home. How much packaging does it take just to get the food from the shelf to your home? You’ll likely end up with a stack of cardboard boxes and a bundle of plastic wrapping that were completely unnecessary.

But there are easy ways to cut down on this waste! As a mom of 3, Karen is a pro at packing lunches! Here are some of her tips on how to cut back your snack and lunch food waste:

  • Invest in reusable containers in a variety of sizes – then actually use them!
  • Buy packaged products in larger containers and then portion them into your own reusable smaller containers at home.
  • Snack on whole foods – nature has its own packaging!
  • Make leftover suppers into tomorrow’s lunch by packing these in reheatable containers.
  • Can your own preserves like peaches and applesauce in single serving jars.
  • Set a rule for yourself or for children – only one disposable item per lunch.

The important thing Karen wants you to remember is that “being green” is not a destination, it’s a journey. Some packaging is unavoidable, but making small changes in the food products you’re choosing can have a bigger impact. Every item that you reuse one extra time cuts that portion your waste by 50%. Let continual improvement be your goal, rather than environmental sainthood!

For more information on how to reduce your food waste, or to find answers to your burning environmental questions visit NEAT, The Story of Stuff, or Multi Material BC.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Make halftime count!

Seattle Seahawks jersey on a couch.

This Super Bowl Sunday, make sure to get that jersey off of the couch! Try switching between standing and sitting every time possession changes, invent your own touchdown dance, or have a pushup contest during a commercial break. There are lots of ways to make sure that it isn’t just the players who are being active on Sunday!

Are you all set for this Sunday? Got your jersey, snacks, and a great group of friends to enjoy the game with? This year’s Super Bowl promises to bring even more excitement to the West Coast as our neighbours to the south and closest NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks, battle to defend their title as NFL champions!

Even those of us who aren’t diehard fans will likely participate in the annual ritual and let’s face it, it’s another excuse to have a party! As the spouse of a Seahawks fan, I’m often drawn into the games, but find the constant start-stop action and pauses for commercial breaks frustrating! During the Super Bowl, these commercial breaks are even longer (they’re known for their creative advertising) and they host a long, star-studded halftime show which, for many, is the highlight of the game.

So I ask you, what do we do with all the down time? Even though each quarter is just 15 minutes long, the average game can last up to four hours! Bathroom breaks aside, we all know that is way too long to be sitting. In fact, we’re starting to see more promotion of standing in the workplace (I’m standing as I type this), but what about at home? How many of us go home after a long day and just flop on the couch for hours on end? Is the Super Bowl just another group-sanctioned excuse to veg out?

It doesn’t have to be this way! My challenge to you is to make halftime (and commercial time) count! Get up and move around. Anyone can do it. You don’t need any fancy equipment. Just stand up. And no, that doesn’t mean you should go outside for a smoke break! Let’s face it, if you can last four hours without smoking, then you’re already on your way to quitting!

During the down time, make an effort to get up, stretch, and walk around. Why not even go outside and toss the pigskin around for a few minutes with your pals? With all the nice weather we’ve been having, for most of us in northern B.C., we can’t even complain that it’s too cold!

Looking for more creative ideas to get moving?

  • Celebrate touchdowns with your own endzone dance. There’s no such thing as excessive celebration in your living room!
  • Switch from sitting to standing each time possession changes.
  • Challenge a buddy to a pushup contest – see how many you can do during one commercial!

Make the most of your halftime and encourage others to join in. Support your team by getting on your feet and look to those guys on the TV for inspiration. They certainly didn’t get to where they are by sitting around!

Remember what I was saying about being on your way to quitting? If you are looking for more info and tools to help you quit smoking, check out the new QuitNowMen website and enter to win $2,500 by pledging to quit for one week!

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Keeping young men healthy

Young man having blood tested by lab technologist.

Regular checkups and tests are important to keeping young men healthy. What’s your maintenance schedule?

“The sooner the better.” Whether it’s when to start saving for retirement, or when to put on your winter tires (hey! we are in the north), these are words of advice that we hear regularly. The earlier you take action, the better it truly is for you – especially when it comes to your health!

Establishing healthy habits and checking in with your body on how things are running can not only improve your health in the short term, but help prevent illness later in life. This is especially important in northern B.C. where men are more likely than their southern counterparts to develop chronic diseases like diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and many types of cancers.

A great resource that Northern Health developed to support men’s health is the MANual. This guide covers many topics related to men’s health, from nutrition and physical activity, to mental wellness and specific disease information, such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. The information is developed for – and specific to – men, including young men!

Do you know your maintenance schedule?

Screenshot of health maintenance tips from Northern Health Man Maintenance Guide

Check out Northern Health’s men’s health survival guide, complete with the Man Maintenance Guide, at men.northernhealth.ca

The guide (developed by Northern Health’s own health professionals) suggests that “dudes” (guys aged 18-39) should have some regular maintenance, including:

Yearly:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Dental checkup
  • Testicular self-exam (optional)

Every 3-5 years:

  • Lipid (cholesterol) blood test
  • Diabetes check

If you have specific risk factors or symptoms, you may also want to look into:

  • Prostate checkup
  • Colon & rectal cancer screen
  • Depression screening
  • Influenza vaccine*
  • HIV test (if you are sexually active)

*Keeping all immunizations up-to-date is an important part of routine maintenance for all men. Generally, this means getting a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster every 10 years and making sure you have the shots you need when you travel.

Have you talked to your doctor about any of these?

GOLFing for testicular cancer?
Did you know that testicular cancer more commonly affects younger men? This is one body part you definitely don’t want to ignore! You can grab your life by the … err … “horns” by performing regular self-exams! Just remember GOLF:

  • Groin
  • Only takes a moment
  • Look for changes
  • Feel for anything out of the ordinary

If you do find anything unusual or alarming, talk to your doctor today!

Talk to the experts

Regular maintenance, along with healthy eating and regular physical activity, will give you the chance to get ahead of a major break down. Frequent checkups with your doctor can help to keep your engine running like it just came off the lot!

 

This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Make more of Movember

Man wearing a safety vest and nicotine replacement patch working near train tracks.

Make the most out of Movember! Get a check-up, protect your assets, set a quit date, and get up and move!

It’s Movember again; a time for all clean-shaven men to put away the razor and embark on a hair-raising journey. Although the extra fuzz likely comes in handy in northern B.C. this time of year, let’s not forget that Movember is about more than just moustaches!

We know that men in the north aren’t living as long as men in other parts of Canada, and we know that they’re dying of causes that are – in many cases – preventable, such as heart disease, cancer, and injury. So this November, get a jump on the new year and make some resolutions to improve your health (if you’re a man) or the health of a man in your life! Here are some ideas to get you going: 

Get a check-up

Don’t wait until you’re already sick! Make Movember your annual reminder to go and visit your doctor. Not sure what you need to get checked out at your age? Check out our Men’s Health MANual online

Get up and move

Whether at home or at work, try to sit less and move more. Walking is the easiest way to get started, and requires the least amount of equipment. Take another guy with you, and help improve his health at the same time!

Set a quit date

There’s no better day to quit smoking than today! It’s the single best thing you can do to improve your health! If you’ve been thinking about quitting, but are looking for some help call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1, or check out quitnow.ca

Protect your assets

Seatbelts and helmets let you work and play hard, but most importantly they improve your chances of making it home to your families at the end of the day!

So this year when the ‘staches emerge let them inspire you to put your health at the top of your to-do list. Men’s health matters, because men matter!

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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Men, this week’s for you!

Where are the men?

The NH men’s health program launched in 2011 with this report, “Where are the Men?”, which focused on the health status of northern B.C. men.

On June 3, the new Canadian Men’s Health Foundation was officially launched on Parliament Hill, with the mission to inspire Canadian men to live healthier lives. Along with that, their “Don’t Change Much” campaign was released, and June 9 – 15 has been declared as the first ever Canadian Men’s Health Week. This is another step in bringing much needed attention to the health issues affecting men and the challenges we face in accessing men with our current health services.

Men’s health isn’t a new topic in northern B.C. In fact, we’ve been working to support better health for our northern men since 2010, using new and innovative ways to find and connect with them about health where they live, work, learn, play and are cared for. Our northern reality is that many of our men here live and work in more rural and remote locations, hold jobs related to industry (forestry, oil and natural gas), and work long hours and shift work – often away from the family home base.

Northern Health’s men’s health program, unique for a Canadian health authority and launched in 2011, was born out of the recognition that northern B.C. men not only die sooner than northern women by almost 5 years, they also die more frequently of all causes including cancer, heart disease, alcohol, tobacco, injuries and suicides. B.C. men are twice as likely as women to be non-users of the health services and although northern B.C. makes up only 7% of the province’s population, we account for over a third of the workplace deaths, where 94% of those were men.

MANual: Men's health survival guide

Northern Health developed the MANual: A Men’s Health Survival Guide in 2012.

In the last three years, the men’s health program has done a lot of work consulting with men in communities across the north and creating resources and services to meet their needs. Most notably, we have brought men’s health screening to community events and gatherings where the men are; engaged with research partners around men’s health in the workplace; run a number of promotional campaigns (the “MAN challenge”, MOvember, MANuary, FeBROary); provided grants for injury prevention/men’s health champions to do work in the community; created an interactive men’s health website (men.northernhealth.ca); developed the very popular  MANual: a Men’s Health Survival Guide; and filmed a documentary called “Where are the Men?”.

Looking forward, our work in men’s health has only just begun! We continue to grow and improve upon the services we offer to men in northern B.C., while sharing the importance of men’s health within the health care system, as well as in communities. We’re working to improve the health of men, because men matter! Let’s celebrate the great work being done and the efforts across Canada to bring men’s health issues to the forefront. Let’s get men talking about their health!

Happy Men’s Health Week!

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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