Is anyone planning to do a family health history this Thanksgiving as suggested by the US Surgeon General? www.surgeongeneral.gov/familyhistory
I became intrigued when I learned about this idea of getting a family health history at Thanksgiving, which resulted in an article about it in the Nov 5 issue of Nursing Spectrum/NurseWeek. (You can find the article online at nurse.com: "At the Root of Your Family" by Catherine Spader, RN)
As for me, I am taking my computer with me to Rhode Island where the family will converge over the holiday. In the middle of all the Thanksgiving hullaballoo, I plan to log onto the family history page and work with my brother and sister to fill out the online family history tree for our side of the family. I think I have a pretty good idea of what illnesses have been in our family but was surprised recently to find out my sister did not know our uncle had melanoma. She also did not realize that because of this, she is at risk for melanoma, too. Also, I am almost certain that most of the up-and-coming younger generation does not have a good idea of what potential health issues are present in our family.
Once completed, I plan to email this health history to our cousins and ask them to fill in the blanks about things they remember. For instance, I remember my father saying they used to carry my great grandmother upstairs to bed because her ankles would swell so badly and make her so tired. It sounds like heart failure to me, but I am not certain--it could be a renal problem or just plain old varicose veins. But if it was HF, what was the cause--rheumatic fever? a congenital defect? MI? I wonder if any of my cousins know more about our great grandmother's swollen ankles.
My hopes are that several things will come of sitting down with my family when we are all together at Thanksgiving to fill out our family health history: 1) input from my siblings will generate more information about family members and their health problems 2) there will be a sharing of remembrances of illnesses that have been in our family 3) this will be a teaching moment for my brother and sister who should know what their risk factors are and what they need to do to prevent or screen for them 4) the younger people in our family will remember that there is a health history and that it is important to keep it up to date for the sake of future generations 5) there will be a permanent, tangible document for future generations to use and add to 6) this exercise will have a ripple effect and our family members will encourage others to adopt this as a holiday tradition.
I am curious to know if anyone else is planning to do this or if they have ever done this before.