By Kathy Finley, Director of Family Services at Concierge Care Advisors

This Christmas I surprised my husband with a (Family Tree) DNA kit to find out specifically about his father’s lineage. He knows quite a bit about his mom’s side of the family so I thought it would be interesting since he has always heard that Davy Crockett is somewhere in his father’s family. It will take about 10 weeks to process, so I don’t have any results to share here yet. But I am bracing myself for what may be revealed that could be exciting or disappointing for him. Read on to see why I say this.

My brother-in-law always told us that he was a descendant of the Mayflower. He lorded it over us for years. At one very large Thanksgiving gathering he called all of his “immediate descendant” family to take the main table. The rest of us would sit with our plates in our laps wherever we could find a seat on couches or just stand and eat. Then came along all of the DNA ancestry companies. So in 2017 he took the plunge and had his DNA tested. And guess what… he is not a descendent of the Mayflower, not even close. His genealogy showed a different last name than what he has gone by for years. Unknown by him, back in his history, a woman with children remarried a man after the death of her husband and they all took his last name which he then thought made him a Mayflower descendant. What a shot to his ego!

Now we can go to the other end of the spectrum for getting DNA testing done. The FDA has now approved DNA company (23 and Me) with market testing kits to see if you are at risk for certain diseases. They have approved the testing for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Celiac disease, 4 types of blood diseases, movement disorder, lung and liver disease.

So the question is do you want to know if you are at risk for disease? In my husband’s family, his mom had Alzheimer’s. There are four siblings, three girls and one boy. The oldest sister was diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s disease. At age 64, she had testing done and was found to have markers from both parents. She is taking medicine with a doctor’s oversight. The second oldest sister starting have issues last year and was tested with the same results. She is trying a diet approach to either slow the process or reverse it.  The third oldest sister is just plain angry that they were tested, and will not even discuss it. The only son is on the fence about getting tested right now. So, do you get tested so you can plan for the future with the help of your spouse and family? Or, do you decide to just live your life the best you can and hope for the best? What a dilemma. Just because you know that you are at risk for a certain disease, is there help, a cure? This may impact us in the future financially. Do you get Long Term Care Insurance before the symptoms start? Do you change your lifestyle including diet, exercise, and lowering stress? Do you look at experimental medicine?

Lots to think about. Going back to the beginning of my story. I will let you know how Davy Crockett fits into my husband’s family, or not.