Page 11 - Senior Times South Central Michigan December 2020 - 27-12
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Senior Times - December 2020 Page 11
 THE GIFT OF FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY
By: Sherii Sherban, Publisher
The pandemic has caused us all to be a bit more aware of our health and how we each can work to reduce risk and strengthen our immune system. One of the best gifts that families can col- lectively work on together is the development of a family health history. Even if you are celebrating from afar this season, you can use technology to give your time together even more meaning. In fact, it may be better since you will have more immediate access to personal records. The best thing is that you can start a new tradition to update your family health history every year.
Family health history is a medical history about a person’s living and deceased relatives and should include background about a per- son’s ethnicity. Using this information, health care providers can evaluate the risks for many disorders and chronic adult onset conditions.
share this information easily with your doctor and other family members. Get started at https://phgkb.cdc.gov/FHH/html/index.html.
   Knowing your family health history risk can help you – if you act on it that is. Collecting your family health history is an important first step. It might not be easy. Your family members might not be used to talking about their diseases or might not want to talk. But starting the conver- sation is important. Remember, you’re not just asking for your own health, but for the health of everyone in your family.
disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as
Act on your family health history. The more you know about your family’s health history the better prepared you will be to manage your own health well into your wise years. Much of what you experience as you age has a lot to do with the choices you made as well as environment and lifestyle. However, genes have a role to play in the picture as well.
How to Collect Your Family Health History Talk to your family. Write down the names of your close relatives from both sides of the fami- ly: parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Talk to these family mem- bers about what conditions they have or had, and at what age the conditions were first diagnosed. You might think you know about all of the con- ditions in your parents or siblings, but you might find out more information if you ask.
o What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
Ask questions. To find out about your risk for chronic diseases, ask your relatives about which of these diseases they have had, when they were
Record the information and update it whenever you learn new family health history information. My Family Health Portrait is an online tool designed by the CDC that is helpful in organizing the information in your family health history. My Family Health Portrait allows you to
Talking with your health care provider about your family health history can help you stay healthy!
diagnosed, and successful treatments. Identify
if several family members were affected by the same conditions and if any resulted in death. Include details about any genetic testing as well. Questions can include:
o Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart
If you are one of the older members of your family, you may know more about diseases and health conditions in your family, especially in rel- atives who are no longer living. Be sure to share this information with your younger relatives so that you may all benefit from knowing this family health history information.
high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
o Have you had any other serious diseases, such
as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
o How old were you when each of these diseases
or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your rel- ative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
Knowing about your family health history of a specific disease can motivate you to take steps to lower your risk of getting that disease. You can’t change your family health history, but you can change unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not exercising or being active, and poor eating habits. Talk with your doctor about steps that you can take, including whether you should consider early screening for the disease. If you have a family health history of disease, you may have the most to gain from lifestyle changes and screening tests.
o What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died? If relatives are gone, sometimes details can be found in a family Bible that has been passed down.
Share family health history information with your doctor and other family members.
If you are concerned about diseases that are com- mon in your family, talk with your doctor at your next visit. Even if you don’t know all of your family health history information, share what you do know. Family health history information, even if incomplete, can help your doctor decide which screening tests you need and when those tests should start.
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