Share the Gift of Healthful Conversations

6 Min. Read | December 17, 2021

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Even though the holidays look different this year, it’s still an important time for family. 2020 has brought the importance of health to the forefront of everyone’s minds, making this year’s holiday gatherings (virtual or otherwise) a prime time to shed the shyness and stigma that comes with discussing health histories and learn from one another to benefit the whole family. We have heard many stories of people wishing they had asked more about the health histories of their parents and grandparents after it’s too late. Don’t let that happen to you. 

What’s important this holiday season 

Whether you have been personally impacted by COVID-19 or are simply following the news day in and day out, the pandemic has brought health concerns and priorities front and center for many people this year. 

As we move into the holiday season, whether virtual or cautiously in-person, we must remind ourselves this is a time to focus on what’s important and in the safest way possible surround ourselves with familyIt’s not only imperative we focus on our own personal health goals but also on how we can ensure those closest to us gain as many healthy years as possible. 

In addition to sharing a meal and exchanging presents, we can also use this time of togetherness to educate ourselves on our family histories, what disease or conditions we may be susceptible to, what treatments have worked and, generally, understand our health pictures in a more complete way. As we know, this isn’t limited to inherited conditions (we talk about this more in a prior blog, here). Even so, understanding the health vulnerabilities mom, dad, grandma and grandpa have faced is a great place to start to baseline our health, and get ahead of potential concerns. 

Questions to Bring to your Table (or Video Call) 

At this year’s gathering, grasp a better understanding of your complete health picture by talking with those closest to you about their health and what they know about other relatives’ healthThese conversations can be fascinating though not always comfortable. Yet they can have benefits far beyond one’s self to help our children and grandchildren understand what to be wary of as they age, and what strategies could help them reduce health concerns in the futureConsider asking your relatives some of the following questions this year: 

  • Does anyone have any known allergies or extreme reactions to medications? 
  • Go around the table and ask about any chronic conditions known to be in the family, such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, arthritis or dementia.   
  • What other health concerns has a doctor made you aware of, like high cholesterol or hypertension? Note consistencies and patterns among the family as everyone answers. 
  • What steps have your family members taken to address any persistent conditions, and have they worked? 
  • Has anyone taken an at-home genetic test or had any genetic testing conducted by a doctor? What did you learn? 
  • What does your current health regimen look like? What’s one new thing you’d like to add to it in 2021? 
  • Have you considered using health apps? If you’re already using an app to augment an existing fitness or wellness routine, what’s your favorite one? 
  • This year has been undoubtedly stressful, what’s one coping strategy that has worked for you? 
  • If you could have done anything different for your health when you were younger, what would it be? 

Consider asking someone to write down key points, list conditions that seem to run in the family. Finally, go around the table and share one health goal you’d like to achieve in 2021 

Start building your health family tree 

 Taking the time to understand your family’s health histories, concerns and wellness practices may not seem particularly festive, but good health is always in season, and it might generate a fair amount of entertaining discovery about your loved onesHaving these conversations during the special moments when multiple generations are gathered together can help start important dialogues essential to living a better life in the longtermAnd if that doesn’t set the stage for a happy holiday and healthy New Year, we don’t know what will.