We are going to discuss today what may be the greatest and most unique gift that you can give your family this November! Your gift for National Family Health History Day, we suggest, could be a family health history record.
As people gather round the table for Thanksgiving Day, this November, there is a double celebration.
National Family Health History Day, recognized not so long ago in 2004, joins Thanksgiving, established way back in 1621. The U.S. Surgeon General declares Thanksgiving Day to be the National Family Health History Day every year.
Your gift for National Family Health History Day
Helping your descendants to become aware of illness or disease that ‘runs in the family’ is a kindness. Today, many diseases have cures, support groups and sources of information. You can enable your family to get the benefit of self-education, help or support, if the situation is relevant to them.
Here are some points on preparing to make a Family Health History Record. This is recommended by the CDC.
- Decide practically how you want to store the information – using a pen and paper or in digital format. My Family Health Portrait is an online family health history tool.
- Decide who the record is for. Knowing who could be helped by your record will help you focus on the task.
- Decide which relatives will be included in the record, yourself, your spouse, previous generations, and so on. Consider parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, that are blood relatives.
- If including living relatives, such as siblings, nieces and nephews, ask if you may include their information. People may prefer that some information be included without their actual name.
Factors to Ask Yourself and Others
- Names of past or present conditions
- The age at which they first began
- Ask specifically about chronic illnesses
- Request information as to serious illnesses
- Cause of death on certificates or family medical records
- Known risks due to ethnic backgrounds
Relatives can Take Action
Once there is a record of family health. Family members can speak to their doctor about the issues.
The doctor will use the information to assess the risk or, decide which screening tests to perform.
The Importance of Communication – Keep in Touch with Your Family
Estie Rose, a genetic counsellor, urges people to keep in contact with their family members. She has seen how family members that share information about health can literally save lives. And this comes from a professional viewpoint.
In her article “Communicating with Your Family Can Save Lives” she describes how a patient who received his own diagnosis, communicated with his daughter. She had an early diagnosis thanks to her father’s openness and got on the road to recovery.
Keeping the lines of communication open between family members enables people to share information about diseases. Illnesses that are often passed down or shared are included in various lists.
Follow these steps to good communication in the family.
- Set aside time to talk with family members
- Pick a relaxing location
- Some people like talking while sharing a meal or another pursuit enjoyed by all
- Listen actively, put the phone away
- Discuss the relevant issues, not people’s natures
- When not together, maintain regular contact via an agreed method
How to React when Hearing Family Health Issues
When there is a family health history record, family members might discover things they did not know about their family. Or, maybe they knew about it, but never got the push to do something about it.
So, what should a person do?
- Ask the doctor if they should screen for any disease.
- Take practical steps to lower the risk of getting that or any group of diseases.
- Make lifestyle improvements – forewarned is forearmed – people only stand to gain.
So, here is your opportunity to give a gift. Your gift for National Family Health History Day could be the gift of life, who knows? And of course, there is a connection to Thanksgiving Day! While giving thanks for the successes over the past year, we can give thanks for every day we had health and life. Your gift for National Family Health History Day could enable a family member to enjoy health and life too.