Health, midlife and mom. That’s the theme of today’s post as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend. I’m feeling lucky in midlife because this is the time when many of my friends have started or have already lost their mothers, but mine is still alive and kicking. Like so many women in my mom’s generation, she had me fairly early in life. So, she’s only 20 years my senior. But, we are both getting up there in years.
This weekend as I reflect fondly over my mom’s recent weeklong visit from Iowa, I started thinking about how our general health has so closely mirrored each other as we have aged. It’s been helpful to be able to ask her questions about her health in her younger years. That has not always been the case as she once tended to be intensely private with everyone about any health issues she may have faced, not just myself. I think that is also a generational thing. She has come to realize that information is power when it comes to health.
So, even though it might be a bit of a downer on Mother’s Day to discuss health and motility—think about having a conversation at some point before it’s too late. And, don’t limit it to just your mom’s health. Tap her brain for a family history. We all know in this day and age that knowing family health history such can save a life. For example, my mom had uterine cancer a few years ago. Thankfully, it was caught early and she is fine now. But, that information is something I need to know about and understand the symptoms as I plod through perimenopause.
A couple of years ago, CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton shared some important information and questions that can serve as a wonderful discussion guide between you and your mother:
While not all breast cancer patients have a family history of the disease, having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer about doubles a woman’s risk. Ovarian cancer can also run in families — grandmothers, mothers, sisters. Talk to your paternal grandmother too because increased risks for ovarian cancer can also come from your father’s side.
You should be aware of cancer and in past generations. A lot of moms didn’t talk about cancers like breast cancer, uterine cancer, they was taboo. If your mom had a cancer, any type, ask specifics. What type, how was it treated? When was it diagnosed?
Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Stroke is the No. 4 killer of women. If high blood pressure — a risk factor — runs in the family, it’s important for women to take note.
Gestational diabetes, which develops when you’re pregnant, affects about seven percent of all U.S. pregnancies. Gestational diabetes risks are heightened when there is a family history of diabetes, especially on their mother’s side. Women who have had gestational diabetes pass on obesity and Type 2 diabetes risk to their children.
How Difficult was Your Pregnancy?
Learn if your mother had any experience with miscarriages, a family history of twins or preeclampsia.
If your mother had preeclampsia — swelling and high blood pressure accompanied with a high level of protein in the urine during pregnancy — it could lead to premature births. If your mom or even sister has it, it could increase your risk.
Did she have morning sickness? A new study published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo says that daughters of women who suffered from severe morning sickness were three times more likely to have it.
When Did You Start Getting Hot Flashes?
The average age of when a woman enters menopause is 51, but the range is between 45 and 55. But, if your mom or sister went through premature or early menopause, you could have higher chances of earlier menopause. How old was she and how severe were her hot flashes?
How Much Has Your Height Changed?
Osteoporosis — weak and brittle bones — is a big health topic for women. Women are four times more likely to get it than men. If your mother or relative has osteoporosis, you’re at higher risk, especially if you have a family history of fractures
Last, but not least—make sure YOU write everything down if you have your own children and put it in a safe place in case something happens to you. I’ve started a Google spreadsheet and also have a printed copy of the list with my important papers because Lord help anyone if I die and they have to figure out which password to use.
With that…I hope you have a Happy and Healthy Mother’s Day 2015!
PS – In case you are wondering, the photo is of my mom and son taken a couple of weeks ago. 🙂