Your Family’s Health History
Your family’s health history is important. Until a close family member is diagnosed, Black families whose ancestors were part of the African Diaspora often do not have the privilege of knowing their family’s history, especially genetic illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, cancers, diseases and others. Thanksgiving is National Family Health History Day and there is no better time to start documenting your medical history to assist you and your family with staying healthy and treating genetic illnesses early.
There are several ways to document important health history. Online websites such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website are available where you can document health information in the Cloud. If you just do not trust the government, you can document your family’s health history yourself. One way to do this is to write your history in the traditional family Bible. African-American family’s traditionally kept birth and death records this way.
Now just add important health information such as diabetic, high blood pressure, etc., to each family member’s name. Another way is to create a word document and keep it on a special medical flash drive. There are flash drives that are secure, which protect confidential information and are perfect for storing your private health documents. Now you just need to know what exactly to keep on your flash drive. Below is a list that will get you started.
Secure Medical USB Drive for $15.86 on Amazon.com. Flash drives like this one, protect private information and are perfect for storing your private health documents.
WHAT TO DOCUMENT
Complete Medical History Including:
- Special needs
- Eyewear Prescriptions
- Hearing or Walking Aids
- Dental Records
- List of doctors
- Scans of Health Insurance Cards & Policies
- Primary Health Insurance
- Supplemental Medical Insurance
- Medicare Card
- Long-term Care Insurance
- Disability Insurance
- Life Insurance (Agent, Beneficiaries)
- Funeral Insurance Policy
- Durable Power Of Attorney
- Wills and Living Wills
- Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
- Health Care Proxies
Include documentation on your flash drive for yourself, your spouse or partner, each set of parents, sister and brothers, aunts and uncles as well as all of your children. There is no better time to gather medical information than when everyone is together for a holiday. Finding the right time to discuss this serious issue might be a challenge and you may not want to discuss illnesses during Thanksgiving dinner, but do find a way to gather information when everyone is relaxed and reminiscing.
Once you have all of your information organized, scan all of the paper documents into a PDF format. You should request and scan any digital records, such as x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, mammogram history, etc., from your health care providers. Store your flash drive in a secure, dry location that is easily accessible and in case of an emergency always take your flash drive with you. For more information on National Family Health History Day, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website at www.hhs.gov/familyhistory.