Anyone can wonder about their origins, but the urge to do something about them can be particularly strong when someone enters palliative care.
Finding, or at looking for, answers to some of these universal questions like where they came from and who they might be related to can be asked by residents of Mount Vernon and elsewhere anytime, and employees at Above and Beyond Home Health Care can help.
Though we don’t know who on our staff has specific training in genealogy, all of us do like helping our patients with whatever hobby or activity they’re interested in or learning what progress they’ve already made. Who knows? We might learn something ourselves!
Some people may have a serious need to find direct family members because of adoptions, divorces, falling outs, or simply losing track of kin earlier in life. There may also be questions about inheritances or just a wish to find out someone’s whereabouts who may have disappeared decades before.
Other times, patients might enjoy the process of digging further into their past to see if they can learn interesting facts about their family trees, including possibly making new connections.
That’s a big part of the enjoyment of genealogy, which Ancestry.com says is now considered the second most popular hobby in the U.S. (The first, according to FamilyTree, another ancestry and genealogy site, is gardening.)
Why it’s easier now
Certainly, this type of research is easier than it used to be. Even a few generations ago, people interested in tracing their family roots sometimes had to spend hours in libraries, courthouses, museums or cemeteries. Getting even a tiny bit of information without having to visit certain locations may have required lots of letters to government officials or even citizens with similar names who may or may not have been related.
Today, people can still follow some of these lines of inquiry if they enjoy that sort of challenge, but there are a lot of easier methods to follow.
For instance, there are a variety of genealogy sites that allow people to compare notes, create virtual family trees and connect them with other site members if matches are found.
There are also more public record and census databases online, which make searching for certain names or dates a snap, or at least significantly easier.
If you have questions about a particular family record or set of records, now many resources are available online and officials can also be contacted by email. This can include public archivists, county clerks, librarians or record custodians. Depending on the scope of the searches, and their procedures, they may be able to assist you with your search or at least point you in the right direction.
It’s also easier to reach out to possible family connections by email or social media.
Learn about yourself
There are also opportunities to learn about one’s heritage. If you provide a genetic sample, like your saliva, some sites create a general genetic profile of your racial and ethnic heritage based on different biological factors. It could confirm what a parent or grandparent may have told you about your family past, or reveal information about your ancestry that people may not have been aware of.
Learning these details could inspire someone to begin their own search for more answers, whether it’s asking questions to family members or doing more thorough research. Who was the unknown Swedish ancestor? When did our family move from Africa? What American Indian tribe are we from? Why did we leave China? What did our family do in Ireland?
If you haven’t taken these tests yet, it might be a perfect starting place to learn more about your past. Or perhaps consider giving the tests as a gift to your children or your grandchildren who might be curious about their own heritage now or in the future.
Learning about your past together could be a fun family activity. It also could lead to future research partners or people to pass your notes onto so future generations can continue your efforts.
This time of year could be a perfect opportunity to launch into research or resume genealogy effort that began in the past and put aside.
It’s a good time to make a New Year’s resolution to perform more research or learn more about your family. It’s also right around the time of National Roots Day, an annual occasion when many who like ancestry research encourage others to join in the fun of learning more about their family heritage.
The official day was Dec. 23, but ancestry experts say that any day is a good day to get inspired to search for family history.
Clients who don’t know how to get started can consider visiting resources in their community. If they’re able to travel, they can find a library, a museum or public archive. Or a caregiver can help write some things down or assist with computer typing or research.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care will be happy to discuss different ways to help patients with these efforts.