Taking an active role in creating a healthy lifestyle habit not only will benefit you, but loved ones as well. It goes without saying that this includes getting enough rest, staying hydrated and getting the daily amounts of exercise required, however, you should also consider going the extra mile – gathering your family’s health history.
Knowing your family’s health history may help you steer clear of avoidable illnesses and decrease your chances of developing more serious diseases throughout your lifetime. Studies have shown that there are strong links between generations and our ancestors when it comes to identifying a family’s health history. Tracking down your ancestors can seem like a daunting task, especially if you don’t know where to begin or what to look for. Below are few pointers to consider before conducting your research.
Speak to Living Family Members
The quickest way to get started is by speaking with living family members. This might be the easiest and most accessible resource depending on the circumstances. Elders have a wealth of knowledge and can share candidly what they know. Keep in mind that with blended families, divorce, adoption and many other factors there are a wealth of details that you may not know about unless you ask directly. The stories you uncover are one of the greatest gifts you could receive.
Many years ago, death records were kept on file for public health purposes to alert officials of disease or trends that may be happening in populated areas especially major cities. All records indicate the cause of death, which helps to pinpoint if there is a history of specific diseases within your family. Today you can easily search records online for usually a small fee or completely free of charge. To get started in the search engine, simply type in the name of the state where your family currently resides or comes from including keywords “death index”. Sites like World Vital Records allows you to search international death records.
United States Census
As far back as the 1850’s there is recorded data for each family member within a household that includes important health clues. These findings are extremely helpful, you can expect to find the following:
- Any death occurrences within the home and the cause.
- The occupation of the head of the household. Many jobs have been linked to terminal diseases like cancer, especially if they were exposed to toxic chemicals.
- Additional findings include if household members were blind, deaf or mute.
To obtain census records (between 1850-1930), you can search online or visit the Family History Library or at a Family History Center with an Internet connection. Both locations have all census images and every name indexes to most years.
Take Notes and Record Your Findings
It is important that during the research process you are taking detailed notes, as you may come across some family history that is key for identifying health clues. By recording the data as you go along, it will also help you to discover and resolve any conflicting findings as well. The ultimate goal from conducting a detailed search is to walk away with a solid guide that includes all that you need to know about your family’s health history. To keep your findings in a detailed manner, signup to use TapGenes where you can store the family health history for all of your family members. Additionally, TapGenes allows you share you tree with family members so they can fill in any gaps that you couldn’t fill with your research.