Goshen News, Goshen, IN


April 7, 2013

Family tree can shed light on health risks

The last thing I needed was another project. I grew irritated, even, at what I complained was “too much busywork” for a pass-fail clinical class. Grumble, grumble. My nursing instructor had assigned, among what seemed like five dozen other projects, a family GENOGRAM.

“Ack! I thought. “I don’t have time to do this, and I don’t want to look that thoroughly at my family.” Reluctantly, I reminded myself to shut up, do the work and see what I might learn. That is, after all, what I tell my children to do.

So, a genogram.

Do you know what that is? I did not, really, until I was assigned to do one. Well, when there’s “geno” in the word, you can be sure it has something to do with family history — probably medical history — and a “gram” is just a picture or a diagram or a graphic map of some kind.

So a “genogram,” then, is a graphic map of your family medical and social history. A family tree, if you will. Writing one sounds so fun, right? Actually, it was.

The first place to start, if you use a computer and the Internet, is Google. Remember my own love affair with the search engine? Google does not disappoint. “Genogram” got me 684,000 results in less than one second. Nice.

From your results, read a good definition, then, which I did from Merriam-Webster: “Genogram: a diagram outlining the history of the behavior patterns (as of divorce, abortion, or suicide) of a family over several generations; a similar diagram detailing the medical history of a family in order to assess a family member’s risk of developing disease.”

This definition helps because it notes the “why” of a genogram, which is always my question about everything — “What’s the purpose?” Merriam-Webster says you write a genogram “in order to assess a family member’s risk of developing disease.” So a genogram shows you what’s afflicted your family, if anything, and what could be risk factors for yourself or others.

Next — again, if you use a computer — is to get software that lets you plug in information and draws maps for you. You can, certainly, draw them by hand, and it’s not difficult to do so, but this is one place I’m happy to pay for someone else’s proverbial “wheel” rather than reinvent my own.

Actually, I did not pay. I downloaded and used the free version from www.MyHeritage.com. If I wanted to do more in-depth mapping, I would purchase the more deluxe version. There are hundreds of software options available in those 684,000 results.

Once you’ve decided how to draw out your family tree, either on the computer or by hand, you face the difficult part of a genogram. You need family information. Depending on how thorough you want to be and how many generations back you want to go, you might have difficulty getting it.

Even if you can locate family members and wrench from them their and their parents’ or grandparents’ information, many people are not excited to talk about private health or social matters, especially those that might be unpleasant like mental illness, divorce or death.

So you get what you can.

The goal, remember, is to find out what has ailed your recent ancestors. Did they have heart disease? Diabetes? Cancer? Alcoholism? How did they die? What’s the divorce rate in your family? How about life expectancy?

Did Great-Grandpa, may he rest peacefully, die in 1967 or was it 1972? And what was that diagnosis? Colon cancer or prostate — can’t remember? Be as precise as you’re able.

Text Only
  • The value of water to corn I stumbled across some interesting information on eXtension.org about the water needs of corn.

    July 25, 2014

  • GN140725 Garden Walk THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Gardening brings pleasure year after year Gardening is about doing the things that bring you pleasure. Whether it is growing vegetables and fruit for your family’s consumption or tackling a landscape design or simply planting your favorite flowers year after year, it’s the joy and labor of love that we get while working with the soil and watching nature bring our efforts to fruition.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Red Cross in urgent need of donors

    The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

    July 23, 2014

  • Vegetables need blanching before freezing Rain at the right time and cool weather is making for bountiful gardens, whether it be your own or produce that you buy at many of the local vegetable stands. While I am at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, I know from past years, I will have many convers

    July 23, 2014

  • Briefly Translation to XTAGS failed

    July 23, 2014

  • GROUNDS FOR INSANITY: Schrock boys could add some excitement to White House EDITOR’S NOTE: Rhonda’s Schrock’s column normally appears on Mondays, but was moved this week due to fair coverage.What a wonderful time of year. As I write, a summer rain is falling. Instead of bundling up in layers, tripling my normal circumference

    July 20, 2014

  • Puppy in perilfrom parvo Dear Dr. Weldy’s: My neighbor’s puppy is sick with parvovirus. Are my dogs at risk? What can you tell me about this illness?Dear reader: If your dogs are current on vaccines, they are at very little risk of contracting this virus. Parvovirus is a com

    July 20, 2014

  • SHADES OF GREEN: Educating future leaders in environmental issues is important Thinking about my future year at Goshen Middle School, I found this essay I wrote in 2009 that I will read often while working with my 12-year-old students.***I’ve had many mentors who have led me down my path of education. Ones who have inspired; on

    July 20, 2014

  • GN140720 whole family 01 A special memory on graduation day Today I get “pinned,” a nursing-school version of a graduation ceremony during which we say a pledge to take good care of people and grin goofy-like — I’m sure I will — as our favorite faculty gift us roses, handshakes, and a little gold broach.Oh, a

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Staycation' a simple, but fun alternative One of the column topics that I get a lot of comments, compliments and feedback on is when I write about my vacation adventures (or should I say, misadventures?).Since I took a spring vacation this year and didn’t have any other plans to travel, I de

    July 19, 2014


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results