U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Breaking the Ice: Tips for Having Health Conversations with Family

Put family members at ease during difficult conversations on family health history.

A reunion is a great time to reconnect with old and new family members, make new memories, and share family history. Why not also use this time to share your family health history? Sharing this type of information is important because common chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer continue to rise, and many of these conditions, including kidney disease, tend to run in families.

Having health history conversations can transform a simple update about a loved one’s health and wellbeing into a prevention action step. But, it may be awkward approaching a family member one-on-one about personal health issues. Here are some tips for getting the kidney health conversation started at your next family reunion:

  • Arm yourself with the facts on diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Use the Family Reunion Health Guide (PDF, 1.48 MB) to help prepare for your conversation.
  • Choose the right time and environment. A quiet, private place that is free from distractions is best. Invite your family member to take a walk in the morning before the reunion activities begin.
An image of the family reunion guid  
  • Acknowledge that it is not always easy to face persona​​l health problems. Be supportive and listen. Emphasize that the final decision to talk to health care providers is theirs.
  • If a family member is not comfortable talking about his/her health, don’t force a discussion. Express your feelings of concern. Let him/her know that you’ll be ready to talk whenever he or she is. Make sure your family members know you care about them and their health.
  • Offer to help family members find more information. Start with the toll-free numbers and websites listed in theFamily Reunion Health Guide (PDF, 1.48 MB).
  • Offer to go with them to their health care provider.

July 9, 2014

Contact Us

Health Information Center