TapGenes is an exciting new website where you create a free family tree for the purpose of tracking your family’s health history. It’s a family health pedigree of sorts.

TapGenes Family Health History

An example Family Health History, from TapGenes.com

I first read about TapGenes as I was preparing to attend RootsTech 2016. They were a finalist for the Innovator Showdown and they ended up winning the $20,000 grand prize, beating out some strong competition.

If your family is at all like mine, half the family speaks freely of their health problems, even over dinner, and half of us are more reserved (not to mention turned off). Enter TapGenes.

Quick backstory. My younger brothers call me every time they or a child has a new medical issue and they ask about our family health history. Our parents died young and I was one of the only siblings old enough to know and remember their health issues. But I really don’t like thinking about medical things, much less discussing them. TapGenes is a perfect compromise for what needs to be shared and when and where I’m comfortable sharing. (Please, not over Thanksgiving dinner.)

I’ve built a family tree–okay when I say “built” I actually imported my family tree from FamilySearch.org. I had already started building my tree when I realized I could import it, so I know by experience, both are easy (as is deleting duplicate records).

After you have people in your tree you can start adding their health history or life events. I’m building the tree with as much of my family’s health history as I know and then I’m going to share it with my siblings.

By adding your health pedigree you can track your family’s health story and see trends like allergies, reactions to medications, illnesses. I’m not kidding about this one, I had completely forgotten that cancer runs in my family. On my father’s side an uncle died of cancer as a child and an aunt died as a middle-aged woman. (Hello, my oldest cousin just died of cancer!?!) Now that I see it on a pedigree it seems a bit more important and pertinent to my own health.

Heart disease is rampant in my family and that’s where I’ve focused all my attention as an adult. (I generally remember what people died from.) But they also had other health concerns that were inconvenient and tracking those can help me look for preventative measures to give me and my family a better quality of life.

Funny thing, my children have zero interest in family history and genealogy but just as my youngest was walking out the door to school today he saw my TapGenes pedigree on the computer and was interested for the first time in who his ancestors were. He liked the visuals for heart problems, cancer, mental disease, etc. He asked about these people. He’s growing up with only one grandparent and now he’s curious to see why. When a child has lived longer than a great-uncle it peaks his curiosity. I never think of this uncle who died as a 13 year-old. I try to forget the impact his death had on my grandmother. (I’ll add her addictions next.) I have a few cousins who might remember more than I do. It’s probably time to call them and get the information they remember before our children lose this chance to learn from their ancestors.

After adding all the health history for my deceased family I’ll invite my siblings to share my tree. I’ll let them choose to add their own health conditions and life events because I’m more reserved and even with a 128-bit encrypted system I’d rather let them decide what to share. That said, my only living uncle has already spent an hour sharing his health history and offered to let me add it to TapGenes in hopes it will benefit the family.

And with TapGenes you can track your own vitals over time: blood pressure, blood glucose, height, weight, etc. When your doctor asks you to keep a log of a vital-this is a great place to store it. And where in the world do adults track their immunizations? The family pediatrician keeps that information for our children and we access it each new school year. But are there adults out there who a) have a family doctor they see yearly? b) track their immunizations? I don’t know when I last had a tetanus shot and can only vaguely remember my last MMR (after childbirth) and Gamma Globulin (a trip). I can track these on TapGenes.

Even if you’re not ready to start a family health history with TapGenes, you can sign up for their newsletter, read their blog, follow them on Pinterest, or Facebook, or Twitter and get great reminders and current articles on health and wellness. You can also look up “Symptoms and Prevention” on their Healthy Living Blog and find helpful articles and information.

So, as someone who hates discussing family health issues, postpones doctor appointments, and generally avoids thinking about these things, I’m sold on TapGenes. It’s the responsible thing to do for my family and it won’t be hard to find someone who wants to take over the caretaking of the family health history. Like they say, “access this information whenever you need to-just think, your family history could be a mere tap away!”

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