In my family, we have a rich tradition of telling stories. It’s how we keep the people who came before us alive in our memories, connecting what we do now to what happened in past generations. But we don’t talk much about health. Except for the broad strokes of the past generation or two, my family’s health history is unknown.
We are not alone in this. Although we may be aware of what’s happening with our parents or our grown children, usually we don’t know what Aunt Sharon or Great-Grandpa James went through. And that can trip us up. Being informed about health conditions in the family can be important for preventative care. It can also help you understand your chronic condition in a broader sense. This month on HealthCentral, we are talking about family health histories.
Marianna will offer some background, writing about why family health history matters and sharing tips on how to talk to older relatives about this. Two of the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) team writers are interviewing family members to delve into their history and how chronic illness has affected the family unit. Cathy is starting us off with an interview with her husband and later this month, Emil will talk to his mother about autoimmune disease in their family.
I’ll be taking a look at the other side of the coin, exploring not just how knowing more about your family’s health can help you, but also looking into whether it can be an obstacle in your journey with chronic illness.
We aren’t just going to be disappearing into the annals of history this month! We are also looking at a number of other aspects of living with RA and other forms of chronic illness.
There are many ways of keeping your joints mobile when you have RA. One is to focus on particular joints and later this month, I will share hand exercises that can keep you functioning in your day-to-day life. If you want a more full-body approach, yoga is commonly recommended as a gentle way of keeping your body moving. Emil is continuing his journey through multiple forms of exercise and will report back on yoga.
November is also the start of the holiday season and we’ll begin our coverage of the annual craziness and doing our best to help you get through it in one piece. Reading is a great way to relax and sometimes learn ways of doing things differently. I’ll take a look at books that might be helpful for the holidays and beyond. In her second article, Cathy will share her family’s unique way of celebrating the holidays that enables everyone to relax and enjoy being together.
Please join us in these conversations on the RAHealthCentral Facebook page. We hope you’ll share your family health histories and more with us this month!
Lene Andersen is the Community Leader for HealthCentral’s RA Community. Lene (pronounced Lena) is an award-winning writer, health and disability advocate, and photographer living in Toronto. She’s written several books, including Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain, and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain, as well as the award-winning blog, The Seated View. Follow Lene on Twitter @TheSeatedView and on Facebook. Watch her story on HealthCentral.