When we’re young, we really never think much about our ancestors beyond maybe our grandparents. But as we get older, many of us have a desire to learn more about our family roots. “I think that as we get older, we actually start to get interested in our families, who we are, where we came from. And as we get older, perhaps our view of the world broadens?” reflects Stacey Brake, Co-Director of Health and Wellness for 9Health Fair.
Why You Should Take Some Time to Work on Your Family Tree
Most of us know that many diseases and illnesses can be hereditary, but there’s more to it than that. Not to mention, it can actually be a fun family activity, and if you have kids, it’s a great way to get them interested in your family history. “We start to realize we are a part of a much bigger picture,” says Brake. “Plus, it’s really cool to get to know your family while they are alive. Being able to spend time talking with grandparents or great-grandparents, aunts and uncles, and learning their experiences and what they know about our family…that’s priceless! I wish with all of my heart I would have asked my dad more questions before he passed away. Now I am more aware of asking my mom questions and hearing stories that have been passed down through her family.”
So what information is important? Brake says definitely look into the medical history, as well as life longevity, what people died from, what diseases tend to affect the area our ancestors came from. “Also, just learning family stories, triumphs, disappointments, accomplishments, etc., is so invaluable. How did our families get to the United States? When did they get here? That kind of information is COOL!”
Just how far back should you research? “As far back as possible,” says Brake. “The more information, the cooler the story, and the more information we would have access to for studying and learning.”
Be Prepared and Open Minded
For those who have been adopted, it can be quite a bit harder to gather this information, but it is still possible. Brake has a lifelong friend who was adopted and went through the journey of discovery a few years ago. “She talked with her adoptive parents about it and they gave her as much information about the people and the adoption. She then submitted some requests to the adoption agency to get information. She was very curious about medical history and other things. She learned that her biological mother had actually passed away a few years prior to cancer.”
According to Brake, learning about family history is a great way to bring people together. “Learning about how we got here, how we became who we are and how we fit into the puzzle is truly fascinating. I think we also have to be prepared that we may not find what we are looking for or we may find stuff we may not want to know. Be prepared and be open minded!”
We have created a family tree that you can download here to fill out with your family. Consider it another great step towards teaching your family the importance of Owning Your Health.