Promoting an Awareness of Family Health History and Future Health in LGBT Families

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Talking to Your Family and Collecting Your History

Having a conversation with your family members is a great way to learn about your family’s health history. Family reunions and holidays (Thanksgiving is designated by the Surgeon General as National Family Health History Day) offer opportunities to talk to many relatives at one time to share stories and experiences. As you talk to your family members, you will want to write down the following information: family

It can be hard to collect your family health history, especially if someone in your family is private about their sickness or if you have certain family members with whom you do not speak often. Some families write down important information in journals or a family Bible (often where records of births and deaths are listed, for instance). You may wish to speak to members of your family about whether these resources have been kept.

Finally, family members may not clearly identify all diseases or illnesses. Ask questions that invite family members to describe events and behaviors that might suggest health issues. For example, an uncle who, "never went outside" might suggest a disease that prevented him from walking or he may have suffered from depression. Any information is better than none, so write down what you can and talk to your doctor or genetic counselor about the information you are able to collect.