They say you never stop being a mother, no matter what the circumstances are, and it’s true — it’s a love with no boundaries. However, we have to admit that while the selfless journey of motherhood has many perks, it’s nice for someone else to take care of us sometimes. That is surely what any ageing mum would want after all.
Care is demonstrated through kind gestures from your spouse or friends, and occasionally, our little ones can surprise us with thoughtful touches. Similarly, we should remember to do the same for our ageing mums — no doubt they’ll cherish the little things you do to show you care.
Sometimes though, it’s not all cups of teas and pleasant outings. Showing your ageing mum you care means asking the difficult questions to ensure they’re taking the best possible care of themselves. Here are three simple questions to broach in your next mother-daughter conversation to check-in on some of the following higher-risk health conditions.
1. Do you often have cramps, muscle aches and bone pain?
Osteoporosis is a health condition that affects over 3 million people in the UK. Women are particularly at risk — particularly if the menopause begins early (before the age of 45) or if they’ve had their ovaries removed.
Osteoporosis develops slowly over several years when the body doesn’t produce enough bone to replace what it has lost. This leads to weak, brittle bones, prone to breaking easily. Osteoporosis is often only diagnosed when a fall or sudden impact causes a bone to break or fracture.
If your ageing mum is at risk of developing osteoporosis, you should encourage her to take steps to help keep her bones healthy — such as regular exercise, eating healthily and taking a daily vitamin D supplement.
Although osteoporosis often starts silently and may not be found until a bone fracture, there can be warning signs — such as backache and increased cramps, muscle aches, and bone pain.
While many of us accept aches and pains as a part of life, these symptoms may indicate your mother’s bones require some support. So she should book a GP appointment to discuss preventative and treatment options.
2. Do you have trouble holding your urine?
Urinary incontinence is a common problem in the UK — in fact, it is thought to affect as many as 3 million people, with women at the forefront. The severity of this condition can range from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to an intense need to urinate so sudden you don’t get to a toilet in time.
Although incontinence can happen at any age, it’s more common in older age. One cause is that as you go through menopause, it may become harder to control your bladder because your ovaries have stopped making estrogen. Once the estrogen is gone, your body takes a break from working so hard — causing your pelvic floor to weaken and the lining of your urethra to thin.
It’s important to stress to your mother that she shouldn’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about urinary incontinence. Encourage her to visit her GP and in the meantime, tell her not to worry about having an accident or stop joining in with social or physical activities. There are plenty of helpful incontinence products for women to help keep her dry and comfortable. View the Bayliss Mobility range here.
3. Have you been screened recently?
The three main risk factors for breast cancer are: being a woman, getting older (more than 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50) and a significant family history of the disease. Because of its prevalence among older women, it’s vital to understand how to identify breast cancer and how to get screened for it.
Breast screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram to spot cancers when they’re too small to see or feel. As the likelihood of getting breast cancer increases with age, all women aged 50 to 71 are automatically invited for breast cancer screening every three years.
In the meantime, remind your ageing mum that if she is worried about breast cancer symptoms — such as a lump or area of thickened tissue in one breast — she shouldn’t wait for a routine screening but should immediately see her GP.
Early diagnosis of any health concern is vital. So, once you’ve opened the lines of communication with your mother on these health issues, you’ll find it much easier to discuss more health topics, as and when the time is right.
Ageing can be a cruel thing and if you have an ageing mum it’s important to check up on her health. The above points are a good starting point. Have you broached the above with your ageing mum? Do share in a comment below.
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