In one of my University of Dayton classes that I teach, I added as a project: Complete a Family Medical Tree. Feedback was positive; conversations were initiated among generations; college students began to take charge of their own health.
What is a Family Medical Tree? Researching not only who your relatives are but also, what health challenges did they have? If any individuals have passed, what were the causes? What chronic diseases do you have in your background?
How to get started? Start with the basic family tree. Research back to your grandparents, including aunts and uncles. If any cousins have a significant disease or have passed, note it, too. If you are able to locate the cause of death of great-grandparents, great!
What to do with my Family Medical Tree? Keep it. Update it. Share it with other family members, including your children. This bit of information may help piece together puzzle pieces in your or other family members’ health. If you happen across chronic diseases, take note! Reevaluate your personal health status and consider making some positive health habits.
In our home, we have considered making such a tree. This will not only get storytelling rolling, but will also provide us with another reason to keep healthy in mind.