National Family Health History Day has been celebrated on November 23rd since 2004. If that date rings familiar, it’s also Thanksgiving. This joint holiday is a great reason to have meaningful conversations with your family about genetic health issues and how to prevent them. Celebrating Thanksgiving means you’ll already be congregating with loved ones, making it convenient to talk about health and wellness. Because it can be hard to broach this complex topic, let’s discuss some ways to do so as well as the importance of family health history.
How to Talk about Health with Family
To break the ice, simply explain what National Family Health History Day is. Start by
explaining that the day was created to encourage the discussion of family health and
why it is important. Knowledge of chronic or common diseases can help prevent or
slow the onset. Since this topic can be heavy, especially if you’re discussing family
members who have died prematurely, be compassionate toward family members.
Always ask hard questions, but even so, be patient and kind as your family members
Family Health Data
The CDC recommends questions to ask your family members. Have everyone write
down their responses or designate a note-taker.
- Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or
health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What
type of cancer?
- How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was
Create an online portfolio that houses all your family’s health information; this way,
it’s easy to share with doctors. The Surgeon General provides a free online tool to
store and organize your data.
Genetic Health Issues to Discuss
Although what your family discusses will depend on the health history specific to
you, here are a few common genetic conditions to be aware of. It’s important to note
that heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes are leading causes of death and
disability in South Dakota.
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Prioritize Your Health
There are many ways to prioritize your health and several South Dakota Healthy
Partners to help you along the way. One way is knowing genetic conditions you may
be predisposed to by discussing family health history. While you’re enjoying turkey
and cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, be sure to talk to your family about health