Who’s in charge?
While not carved in stone, womenare often the keepers of their family’shealth, says Tannice Hinrichson, aregistered nurse and the manager ofthe antepartum unit at Peter LougheedCentre in Calgary.
Both partners come into a relationshipwith their own way of dealing with theirhealth, but things often change whenthey start a family. “That pattern is oftenestablished during pregnancy, becausemost visits are often attended by onlythe woman,” she explains.
This pattern usually continues aschildren grow because many momstake care of their children’s healthneeds. It’s not surprising for womento take over their husbands’ healthas well. Having one person in chargecan have drawbacks, particularly if awoman is helping everyone but herself.
With multiple demands on her time,she may unintentionally ignore her ownhealth by postponing or cancellingdoctors’ appointments or skimping onfollowup appointments or treatmentbecause of finances, time and logistics.
Hinrichson says men can be invested
in their family’s health. “Getting involved
right from the get-go is a healthy pat-
tern,” she adds. And by getting involved
early and staying involved, family
health becomes a shared family respon-
Today’s technology also makes itmuch easier for both partners to beon the same page with health-relatedinformation (doctor’s names and contactinformation, for example)and schedules.
— With files from Terry Bullick andShannon Evans
Quitting that habit
Research shows the risks of tobaccouse differ between women and men.
More women die of lung cancer than
all of the women’s cancers combined
says Kristin Matthews, tobacco control
regional manager for The Lung
Association, Alberta and NWT.
could lead to breaking bones, hospital
visits and more serious issues.”
Understanding why a woman
smokes is important says Barbara
Borkent, a program specialist in
tobacco at The Lung Association,
Alberta and NWT. For many women,
smoking is comforting and stress
relieving, even though they know it’s
addictive. “They’ve come to associate
it with something that helps them
relax and time to get away,” explains
Borkent. “For many women, when
they go out for a smoke break, they’re
getting away from a stressful situation.”
Knowing this can go a long way to
being able to offer the support a
woman needs to quit the habit.
(See “Breaking Free” on page 31.)
Like men, women who smoke have
a higher risk of heart disease and
stroke. That risk increases if she’s
on birth control pills or significantly
Women who smoke often have amore difficult time getting pregnant.If they continue to smoke duringpregnancy, they have a higher chanceof miscarrying or delivering a low-birthweight baby. Smoking can evenworsen the symptoms of monthlyperiods and menopause.
Smoking can also affect osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones thatis a concern for many women aftermenopause. Older women who smokehave an even higher risk of losingbone mass, says Matthews. “This