If you love your Dad and want to keep him around a lot longer, here’s the perfect gift for Father’s Day, June 18. Give him the gift of health. Encourage all the fathers and grandfathers in your life to make these lifestyle improvements:

  • Don’t smoke or use any form of tobacco
  • Make healthier food and beverage choices; eat fewer salty or processed foods and junk foods
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Get moving—exercise at least 30 minutes every day
  • Limit alcohol to two drinks a day
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress; daily exercise is one of the best

We all make better health care choices when someone we love encourages us. Encourage Dad to get the following health screenings or tests to look for diseases before symptoms occur. Finding problems early will give him the best chance for a full recovery. Offer to go to his next doctor’s appointment and be sure the two of you ask his doctor which of these tests or shots he needs. Then follow-up to be sure he gets them.

  1. Aortic aneurysm is a bulging of the aorta. If it bursts, the risk of death is very high. The screening is a short and painless ultrasound focusing over the stomach/chest area.
  2. Blood pressure (BP) readings are most helpful when tracked over time to detect trends. Does he have a blood pressure cuff to check his BP at home on a regular basis? Great gift idea, ranging from $20 on up, at a pharmacy, medical supply store or discount store. Be sure to review the instructions with him to ensure accurate readings.
  3. Cholesterol levels are checked with a blood test. How about buying him lunch (and a movie?) after the two of you visit his doctor for this and other screening tests.
  4. Colorectal cancer can be screened for in several ways; ask his doctor which is best for your Dad.
  5. Depression screening means answering questions from a healthcare provider. Screening should be done for anyone who has, for more than two weeks, felt very sad, hopeless, or had little interest or pleasure in doing normally enjoyable activities.
  6. Diabetes screening is done with a blood test. This screening is especially important for people who have high BP or take medicine for BP.
  7. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening should be done for anyone born between 1946 and 1965, has ever injected drugs, or had a blood transfusion before 1992.
  8. HIV-AIDS testing is done with a blood test.
  9. Lung cancer screening is important for people who smoke, have smoked or have quit within the past 15 years. Lung cancer screening can now be done with a blood test. You might want to consider a big box of Nicorette gum (or other quit-smoking aids) if he’s serious about quitting.
  10. Prostate cancer screening should be done annually for men over age 50; more frequently for those with prostate enlargement or pain, or who have had prostate cancer.
  11. Weight should be checked regularly to keep it within a healthy range. Ask his doctor to explain how weight and height are tracked on the BMI index. Does he have an accurate home scale for regular weighing? That’s a gift idea with a price range to fit any budget.
  12. Immunizations can prevent several life-threatening diseases. Dad will need an influenza (flu) shot every year; a combined Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough) shot every 10 years; if he’s over age 60, ask about a shot to prevent shingles; and, if he’s over 65, two pneumonia shots (a year apart) can prevent most types of pneumonia. After all those shots, somebody’s going to need an ice cream cone, or a fishing trip or a few beers around the barbeque. Remember, if your Dad is past 50, shared time with you may be his most cherished gift.