Ask Luci

I’m running out of ways to introduce Ask Luci, but it’s that time again.  We have another great question today, and as always, I appreciate commenter input.

My mom and I are very close; she’s 57 years old, and I can’t remember the last time she went to the doctor. She gradually started going less and less often – she had a general doctor but stopped seeing him; and she used to get an annual pap and a mammogram, but then she stopped going to the gynecologist, and now she only gets her annual mammogram. It makes me worried – she’s never had a colonoscopy, and she hasn’t had a general checkup since I was a kid. My parents have pretty good health insurance and can easily afford to pay the copay, and my mom stays on top of my dad’s health and makes him go in for checkups and for some minor health issues. I suspect that she’s afraid they’ll find some problem or something bad, but I keep telling her that’s all the more reason to go on a regular basis, to help ensure that any problems are caught while they’re easy to deal with. It really worries me – down the line when she’s old and stubborn, if she ever does face any serious health problems, I don’t want to have to fight her on it. How can I convince her to go to the doctor? CAN I even convince her to go? I’ve tried to talk about this logically in a not accusatory way with her, and I’ve done the guilt-tripping Jewish mother approach and even that hasn’t worked. Or am I out of line and should just mind my own business?

Oh, this is an interesting one, and something that I suspect a lot of us face or will face as our parents get older.  It’s not something I have personally experienced because my mom goes to the doctor all the freaking time.  However, I don’t think you’re out of line with feeling concerned. So here are my thoughts on it.  Is it something you could team up with your dad on?  Could you discuss it with him to present a unified front? You may have tried this already, but since you’re close with your mom, have you offered to go with her?  It seems likely that your mom is afraid that she will get bad news or they will discover a problem, which you are correct in pointing out that it’s not like not knowing will not make the problem exist, but prolonging a diagnosis will make it worse.  She might feel a little more comfortable if you went with her.  Sometimes when you have a lot of appointments to take care of it can just feel really overwhelming.  Ask her if she would like you to sit down with her and help her make the appointments with her or for her.

Ultimately, of course, your mom is an adult and can choose to go to the doctor or not.  But I do think that it’s worth taking some steps to see if there is anything you can do to assist her in going and keep reminding her that you want her to take care of her health because you love her.

Good luck.  If you keep with the gentle reminders and logic, I bet she’ll come around!

That’s today’s Ask Luci!  Remember to send your questions to lucifurious at or on my tumblr where you can submit anonymously.

By Luci Furious

There are no bad times, only good stories.

3 replies on “Ask Luci”

I understand why this worries you, but pick your battles. At your mom’s age (and assuming a normal gynae history) pap smears aren’t as important (e.g.: they’re only recommended every five years for women aged 45-60 where I live): they can also be unpleasant and embarrassing. Ditto colonoscopies.
So maybe it will be more productive to focus on getting her to see a primary doc for a general checkup. I know it sounds childish, but why not offer to meet her after the appointment and take her out for lunch, or something?

I think Luci’s advice is spot on. If it is possible she is afraid of potential diagnoses, having a person there to lean on could make all the difference. However, if you don’t mind being a little sneaky about the whole thing, you can use my current stand-off with my mom as a model. I hate going to the doctor. Hate. It takes too much time and I have new insurance so the whole thing is just too much paperwork. However, I have been having these weird pains in my side, which have bothered me in my mom’s presence. She has been pushing me to go to the doctor. I then remembered she had missed her mammogram appt., so told her I would make an appointment if she did. If you don’t mind being shady, might be time to make up a phantom pain so you can start negotiations. Yes, honesty is the best policy, but taking advantage of a mom’s need to see her children healthy can be a useful motivator.

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