Mum’s and daughters generally have a special bonded relationship in which almost any conversation can be had. I know I have with my lovely mum! So, can you be really frank with your Mum about sensitive issues about her health? After all, she’s always concerned about your health! But is she okay when the issue is her health? Here are a few issues that may need discussing.
1. ARE YOU SHORTER NOW THAN BEFORE?
If your mum has shrunk as she’s aged it could be due to osteoporosis. Surprisingly, this affects one in three women and is significant because 80% of our bone health is inherited. This makes an important health question to ask mum because, if your mum has a hip fracture caused by osteoporosis, your own risk increases by 300%. If you’re concerned, ask your doctor for a bone density scan.
2. WHEN DID YOUR MENOPAUSE START?
None of us likes the thought of growing old, but as women if there’s one sure thing we are going to experience, it’s the menopause. The average age is 51 but with 1 in 20 women going ‘through the change’ before the age of 40, it’s a very important health question to ask mum when hers started; especially if you want children and you’re already in your mid to late 30s. Your doctor can take a hormone test to see if your fertility is in decline.
3. WHAT’S YOUR CHOLESTEROL LEVEL?
Very high cholesterol, known as familial hypercholesterolaemia, is caused by an abnormal gene and affects 1 in 500 people. It’s an important health question because if either of your parents have it, there’s a 50% chance of you getting it too. Again, there’s a simple blood test your doctor can undertake.
4. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ON ANTI-DEPRESSANTS?
Mental health questions are a very serious issue. Even more so, when you know that research shows that depression can be inherited. According to the UK Institute of Psychiatry, if a parent is diagnosed with chronic major depression before the age of 31, their offspring are twice as likely to develop the disorder.
5. HAVE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS EVER BEEN TESTED?
Type 2 Diabetes is becoming a major disease of the 21st century. There are potentially millions of people who are unaware they have the disease. If either of your parents are diabetic, there is a 15% chance of you developing it. The risk jumps to 75% if both parents suffer. This is one of the specific health questions you can ask of your doctor who can arrange for a blood sugar test.
6. HAS YOUR EYESIGHT DETERIORATED?
Many eye conditions can be inherited. This includes Glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, both of which cause serious vision restriction. Very definitely one of the important health questions to ask mum because, if she has glaucoma you are 6 times more likely to develop it after the age of 50. Be sure to have an annual eye check.
7. HAS ANYONE IN THE FAMILY HAD HEART DISEASE OR CANCER?
These are both scary health questions, particularly because, in the case of cancer, you’re pretty much defenseless and even people who have a healthy lifestyle can develop the disease. Whilst research into hereditary links for both cancer and heart disease continues, there has long been evidence to suggest the relationships exist. If there’s a history of either in your family, discuss with your doctor.
Ask your mum these health questions but be prepared to deal with the answers. Don’t panic when she says yes to any of them; even though the risks are there it’s no guarantee that you will develop any of these conditions. Take these health questions and your mum’s answers to your doctor.
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Image: The National Campaign