As we celebrate Mother’s Day this year, let’s not forget the most important gift we want for our mothers — the gift of health. While we cherish the memories of how Mom raised and took care of us, it’s now our turn to encourage her to prioritize her health and well-being. This year, let’s honor our mothers by reminding them to schedule their regular health checkups and vital screenings.
You may be thinking, Mom looks good, she’s active and her mind is alert, and that may be the case, but regular health screenings can help prevent diseases or detect them early, which can increase the effectiveness of treatment. As we celebrate Women’s Health Week from May 8-14, let’s help our mothers schedule their important doctor’s appointments and screenings.
There are many benefits that come with health screenings. Health screenings can encourage lifestyle changes such as eating a healthful diet and getting regular physical activity. Healthy choices can improve quality of life and reduce the chances of getting a chronic disease like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. It can also lower the risk of severe illness from some infectious diseases, such as the flu.
Here are a few health priorities that I share with my female patients to help them achieve healthful changes:
Start with a regular well-woman visit for screenings that check for risk factors for chronic conditions or early signs of a disease depending on age and circumstances. Well-woman screenings can include cervical cancer screenings, mammograms and colorectal cancer screenings.
Sometimes, the impact of mental health on physical health can be overlooked; it shouldn’t be. Both mental health and physical health are equally important components of overall health. Mental health screenings can help detect symptoms caused by anxiety and depression, which can increase the risk for many types of physical health problems.
If you or someone you know has thoughts about suicide or is in crisis, seek help right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
To talk with a trained counselor, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline any time at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Depression and other mental health conditions can impact the development and management of many types of physical health problems, particularly long-lasting conditions like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Similarly, the presence of chronic conditions can increase the risk for a mental health condition. Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Certain types of depression are unique to women, including depression associated with hormonal changes related to pregnancy, the postpartum period, perimenopause and the menstrual cycle.
One in five women over the age of 50 are affected by osteoporosis, so it’s recommended to monitor bone density to screen for osteoporosis. Women are more at risk than men for osteoporosis because they have less bone mass than men and can experience more bone loss during hormonal changes at menopause.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, some women face different challenges quitting smoking than men. Those obstacles can include fears about weight gain and feelings of sadness and other negative emotions that trigger relapse. However, quitting is important as there are significant health benefits that come with it, such as lowering blood pressure, preventing permanent damage to your lungs and lowering the chance of heart disease. It’s never too late to quit smoking. A good place to start is with your health care provider who can assist with choices to help with quitting.
So, this Mother’s Day, let’s remind mom of all the ways to maintain her health, to eat healthfully, be active and to avoid unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco use, texting while driving and drinking in moderation, if she chooses to drink at all. Remind her to manage her stress, get enough sleep, be attentive to her mental health and get all recommended screenings and health exams. While flowers, perfume and chocolates are wonderful gifts that moms will enjoy, the best gift of all is to encourage her to make her health a priority.