As your employees begin to travel to see family and friends this holiday season, it’s a good time to encourage them to initiate conversations with their family members that could impact their long-term health.
November 23 is National Family Health History Day and it takes place around Thanksgiving for a reason — employees are more likely to be gathered with close family and in a position to start a conversation about serious health concerns they should be aware of.
WHY IS A FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY IMPORTANT?
“Family history can shape what your interaction with the medical system looks like, from increased screenings for cancer prevention to screening for chronic illness like diabetes,” said Dr. Heather Towery, Eden’s VP Clinical Strategy and Enterprise Partnerships.
Having a record of the diseases and health conditions is important because family members share genes and even some behaviors (like diet or exercise habits). The geographical location of a family may also have an impact on health and it’s important to make a note of those environmental factors that family members interact with or are exposed to.
Most families have a history of at least one chronic disease, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. If a close family member has a history of health problems, an employee may have a higher likelihood of developing that disease themselves. It’s especially important to know who in the family may have been diagnosed with a particular disease at an age that’s younger than normal.
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD EMPLOYEES COLLECT WHEN THEY’RE WITH FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are some of the important questions to ask relatives:
- Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
- Have you had any other serious diseases, such as:
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer or ovarian cancer
- Hereditary hemochromatosis
- How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed?
- What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
- What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?
HOW DOES A FAMILY HEALTH HISTORY IMPROVE EMPLOYEE HEALTH?
While employees can’t change their genetic makeup, a family history can help them better understand and guard against serious health risks down the line. Screening tests for women and men, like mammograms or colorectal cancer screenings, can help find early signs of disease. Healthy living habits like appropriate exercise, a balanced diet, and not smoking can help reduce the risk of certain diseases that run in one’s family.
To learn more about how Eden’s primary care providers prioritize preventative care, request a demo from a member of our team today.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your Care Team or other healthcare provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials.