Did you know that genealogy could save someone's life? How? By taking the research findings, tools and techniques from a family history project and turning it into a family health tree! This leads us to our first tip...
Tip #1: Utilize the tools, techniques and information you use in your genealogy research, to aid in creating a family health and medical history diagram.
Lots of diseases are passed on from generation to generation - they are hereditary. Other diseases are not genetic in nature, but because your family and you probably share similar lifestyles and diets, then you all tend to get the same types of health problems and diseases.
By learning about the diseases you or others in your family are most likely to get, you can prevent them before they even get started! This leads to the next tip...
Tip #2: Get Complete and Accurate Information!
Start gathering information about yourself first, then work up your family tree, going to your parents next, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, etc. On to the next tip...
Tip #3: Gather the Correct Information
You need health information such as: race, current age, relationships status, lifestyle, physical conditions, chronic conditions, etc. Which leads to the next obvious tip...
Tip #4: Interview Your Relatives (Carefully!)
Start off by interviewing your family members just like you would for a genealogy project. Be careful about how you ask certain health questions because some people are very sensitive to these questions. They don't want to share much information - or any at all! Medical and health data is a private matter - even between close family members. Explain your purpose for asking; ask politely; choose your words carefully.
Tip #5: Use Your Information Sources
Whether you're an amateur genealogist or a professional, the sources you use are the same ones to help you find family medical information. Use government documents and other vital records as well as personal anecdotes, journals, diaries - even photographs can contain hidden nuggets of information.
[Side Note: Now is a good time to learn about a "genogram" - what it is, how it can help you and your family, how to make one, etc.]
If you haven't figured it out by now - you are the one person most suited for creating your family health tree. You are the one with the interest and desire for family history information. You are the one willing to do the interviews and other research. It only makes sense that you become the owner of this potentially life-saving project - you've got the skills and resources others may not have.
A family health tree is not a quick, easy project for you to tackle, but the benefits to you and your family may prove to be immeasurable. I urge you to think about creating a family health tree the next time you're doing genealogy research.
Best wishes to you!