We all know Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. It is a special time for us to celebrate with our family by eating delicious food and showing gratitude. However, that’s not the only event recognized that day.

Since 2004, the Surgeon General also declared Thanksgiving as National Family Health History Day. This event encourages families to discuss and record their health history. As we all know, chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure can be inherited through genetics.

Fortunately, we can be aware of our family’s medical history by coming together and creating a health tree. While it is not easy to talk about past health issues, it’s still important to discuss them with your family for everyone’s well-being.

Here are four steps to help you gather your family’s health history this Thanksgiving.

  • 1

    CREATE A FAMILY HEALTH TREE

    There are many ways to make a family health tree to share with your loved ones. One idea is to draw and design everything on a poster by using colored pencils. That way, you and your relatives can add information to the tree.

    However, if you want to be advanced, then you can use the free “My Family Health Portrait” website to create your family health tree. You can easily organize everyone’s medical history and share it with your loved ones and doctor. Also, you can save your tree and update it over time.

  • 2

    ASK QUESTIONS

    As mentioned before, Thanksgiving is when many family members reunite, especially older relatives. Even though it’s not easy to talk about it, you should still ask your loved ones about their health history. Doing so will help you save time by gathering valuable information now rather than waiting for the next reunion.

    Specifically, ask your relatives which chronic conditions they have had and when they were diagnosed. This will give you more insight into your family’s roots for potential hazards.

  • 3

    RECORD AND REVIEW RISK FACTORS

    Once you’ve collected most of your family’s medical history, record it on whichever data method you chose. After your tree is made, take the time to review it with your relatives.

    In particular, see if there are any certain conditions you and your family are at risk of. For example, if you noticed that some of your relatives had colon cancer before turning 50, then you may also get it before that age. Once again, discuss with your family about the history of any inherited chronic disease.

  • 4

    SHARE WITH YOUR DOCTOR

    As stated before, also share your family’s health history with your medical provider. Your doctor will also determine if you are at risk of any chronic conditions based on that information.

    Doing so can help your physician decide which screening tests you need and when you should start them. This can lead to early detection and other steps to treat or prevent the disease.