If you’re like me, chances are your family health history includes many common conditions like diabetes, stroke, and cancer.
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day. So, let’s talk turkey about this important topic.
Since multiple generations typically celebrate together, it’s a great opportunity to carve out time to discuss your medical family tree.
Why is it so important? Because knowing your personal risk factors for disease makes it easier to talk to your doctor about recommended preventive care and lifestyle changes that can help you, and those you love, stay healthier.
Quick Tips for Creating Your Medical Family Tree
Unlike preparing the Thanksgiving feast, turning Turkey Day into a family health sleuthing session doesn’t require hours of work or need to involve unnecessary drama.
Try using the U.S. Surgeon General’s Guide to Creating a Family Health Portrait to help you get started:
- Talk to as many relatives as you can. Collect information about your parents, children, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles to get the most complete picture. At least three generations of blood relatives should be represented if possible
- Ask the right questions. These are just a few key questions to ask each person you interview or relative, living or deceased, you discuss:
- Do you (or he/she) have chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes?
- Have you (or he/she) had any other serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
- How old were you when you (or he/she) developed these illnesses?
- Capture your conversations. Fill in the American Medical Association family health history form, or use a tape recorder or smartphone app to record your conversations.
Once you’ve gathered as much information as you can, the U.S. Surgeon General’s confidential My Family Health Portrait tool can help you create an online version to download.
Use the IBX Personal Health Record
Another handy and secure online tool Independence Blue Cross members can use to keep track of their health history is the IBX Personal Health Record.
Available at ibxpress.com and on the IBX mobile app, it is automatically updated with information from claims data. Members can also add information to keep their Personal Health Record up to date, and print a copy to bring to doctor appointments.
Anytime is a good time to have a conversation about how your DNA affects your well-being, but this Thanksgiving, plan to serve your turkey with a side of family health history.