With Thanksgiving less than a week away, many families are preparing to travel to spend time together for the holiday. Spending time with your family around the holidays may feel comfortable since you likely have spent a lot of time with them over your years. The start of the holiday season may even feel a bit predictable as you can say with some certainty who will fall asleep first after the meal, who will complain that a "family favorite" isn't on the table this year, and who will win the fight for control of the remote. We tend to think that we know our families very well, but there are some topics we generally avoid. How well do you know your family's health history?
There are many reasons why family members choose not to talk about their health history – they may feel embarrassed if diagnosed with certain conditions; they may not want to worry younger family members; they may not want to answer questions about it; or they may be struggling to understand the condition on their own, much less explain it to someone else.
November is Family Health History Month in Missouri, and Thanksgiving day, for the 10th year, was declared Family Health History Day by the Acting Surgeon General. So, if you are able to share food, laughter, and memories with family members this Thanksgiving, start the conversation about what health conditions exist in your family. If you are unable to share the holiday with family members, or are adopted and do not currently know your biological family members, use the holiday as a jumping off point to start doing some research into your health history and collecting information to put a complete family health history together.
The Surgeon General's office offers a free online tool which organizes your family health information into a document for you to share with health professionals and other family members. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) also provides a number of resources for families to use as they start the conversation about what health concerns affect them. We hope you get to know your family better over this holiday season!