Caring for Seniors: Create and Maintain a Family Health History

One of the most important tasks in caring for the elderly is to create a family health history. A family health history is simply a written record of the family’s health. It contains information about a family’s medical conditions, lifestyle habits such as smoking or drinking, and where and how family members grew up.

Why create a family health history as a first step toward caring for older people?• A family health history helps you and medical care professionals determine if you, your children, or your grandchildren might be at greater risk for developing serious health problems such as heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
• The family health history can pinpoint less common diseases passed from one generation to another, for example, diseases such as hemophilia or sickle cell anemia.
• There are tons of diseases that result from a combination of a person’s genes, lifestyle and environment, which can be tracked through a family health history. People cannot change the genes inherited from parents, however, they can change the diet, physical activity, and type of medical care to try and prevent specific diseases that run in the family.
• Health care professionals use family health histories to help evaluate a person’s risk of certain diseases that run in the family. As you care for the seniors in your family a well documented health history helps the professional to recommend lifestyle changes or adjustments which will lower the chances or risks of getting those diseases.

Lifestyle changes or adjustments for helping older people to remain healthy may include:

• Eating healthier foods
• Exercising more
• Getting specific medical tests
• Taking new medicines
• Stop smoking
• Stop drinking alcoholic beverages or at least reduce to a minimum

How can a family health history help professionals reduce illness in older people?

For example, the health care professional reviews your older parents’ family health history and discovers one or both of their parents had diabetes. The senior person may be told to lose weight or to monitor weight gain and exercise more to try and prevent the same disease. In addition, a family health history might help explain why an older adult developed certain health conditions.

One question we commonly get is “where can I find affordable senior care providers?” It’s a fact that after a certain point, your loved ones may require professional care. Caring for your parents or grandparents full time may not be feasible on your own. However, you don’t necessary have to send parents or grandparents to a senior home. You can find affordable senior care online that can make senior assisted living possible — and free up your own time too.

If you are faced with caring for seniors in your family consider creating, maintaining and sharing a family health history with health care professionals. Another great benefit of maintaining a family health history is providing information to help your children and grandchildren live longer, healthier lives.

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