By Sudha Kashmiri
Mothers have long been recognised as the best caregivers. Looking after parents-in-law, spouse, kids, and extended family leaves them with no time for themselves. Even at modern-day work places women take on more than what they ought to. When it comes to their food, well-being and health, women tend to sacrifice more than anyone else in the family.
A look at advertisements and a visit to the mall, ahead of the ensuing Mother’s Day, gives the impression that modern-day marketers believe that all that a mother needs is a nicely packaged gift on this day.
Having been a practising gynaecologist and a proud working mother for decades I have met over 300,000 mothers and I can say with some conviction that what a mother needs is not an expensive or a gimmicky gift, but empathy, advice, care and emotional support. It’s time to give back for the sacrifices she made in your growing-up years.
So Mother’s Day is the best time to spend the day talking to them, their unexpressed needs and their long-overlooked health issues that are often swept under the carpet.
There are plenty of health issues that most mothers in their forties and fifties tend to suffer from, albeit silently. One of the most prevalent are Calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies, leading to osteoporosis.
Stress at home or work coupled with improper diet and lack of regular exercise could sometimes lead to severe health complications. Hormonal changes in the middle age can cause mood swings, insomnia and depression.
Conditions like anaemia are often mistaken for weakness and tiredness, hence ignored. Onset of menopause leads to hot flashes, palpitations, weight gain, irritability and vaginal soreness. With age, the incidence of breast or cervical cancer also increases and a woman needs to watch out for this.
What can the offsprings do for their mothers?
– See to it that routine health check-ups and yearly tests are conducted. A half-yearly visit to a good gynaecologist is a great protocol to follow.
– Frequent tests for Blood Pressure (120/80 normal range), Cholesterol and Diabetes management (fasting sugar of 70-110 normal range).
– Watch for signs and symptoms of cancer, especially breast cancer (lumps in the breasts, pain or swelling of breasts, nipple retraction, nipple discharge). Routine Mammography and Pap Smear tests for cancer detection need to be conducted for early diagnosis and treatment.
Ensure that a healthy and balanced diet is maintained. Diet must include plenty of salads before meals. The following seven foods should be consumed daily by mothers:
– Nuts: Rich in proteins and minerals
– Green Tea: Full of antioxidants
– Flax Seed: High on fibre and good fats. Reduces cholesterol
– Yogurt: High on proteins and probiotic in nature. Cools the body and keeps one slim
– Oats and leafy greens: High on fibre and beta glucons
– Kidney Beans: Rich in proteins and fibre
– Apple Cider Vinegar: Regulates glucose levels in the body.
Encourage your mother to exercise regularly. Enrol her for a yoga class, and practise praanaayaam. Accompany her for early morning walks. Take her to a gym, it is never too late.
Most importantly, give your mother the emotional support that she needs. At this time in life, mothers are emotionally vulnerable due to the multitude of changes happening – health and otherwise. It’s easier for a daughter to connect with her mother on an emotional level.
Hence try and be her best friend. Make time from your busy schedule, talk to her regularly, keep her happy by respecting her likes and dislikes.
Help in the housework and take the burden off your mom. This will release time for her to pursue a hobby and make her feel important and precious. Mothers are the backbone of a family and deserve support and care from the entire family.
On this Mother’s Day I urge all moms to eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.
(Sudha Kashmiri, a veteran gynaecologist, is chief medical officer and board member of Zoctr, a home healthcare aggregator.)