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News & Events
DNA Testing Can Give Seniors Family and Medical Information
A new television advertisement suggests that you buy a DNA test kit as a gift for your loved ones or friends. Do you think seniors living active lives in retirement communities like Westminster Village know, or are interested in what that means? We all know from TV that DNA testing has been used to identify people who may or may not have committed crimes, but a DNA test can also match you to people who share your ancestors or map your geographical origins.
More than one company offers a home DNA kit and the testing service for people. Each one has a slightly different process for completing the kit. One of the companies requires that you first collect a sample of your DNA, by swabbing the inside of your cheeks with a cotton swab. You’ll need to do this twice. This is the part of the process that may be different for different companies.
You then place your sample in the included envelope and register your kit online. Registering your kit at the company’s website is important. You must register it to protect your privacy and access your results.
Author Molly K. McLaughlin of PC Magazine writes, “Results are different for women and men. Women, who have the XX chromosome, can only trace back the maternal line. Men, having the XY chromosome, can track back the maternal and paternal line, painting a complete picture.” She recommends that women should ask a brother to take the test as well for better information.
Don’t take the ethnicity results too seriously
Simply researching DNA testing on the internet may be confusing. Some of the explanations about the geographical mapping is technical and hard to understand. And while the science behind DNA testing has evolved, it’s sometimes difficult to get a true picture of your geographic origins because of the movement and mingling of ethnic groups. Each testing company may give you slightly different information.
You may have better luck in finding the match between others who share your DNA and therefore, share ancestors. But those same internet websites warn you that what might start out as exciting could also be eye-opening and life-changing. You might find surprises or secrets in your family tree that you hadn’t expected. It can be fun to discover connections you never knew existed.
Older adults may have medical reasons for a DNA test
Other DNA tests have different purposes. You may need a DNA test to give you more information about medical issues for your health and wellness. Dr. Josh Axe, certified doctor of natural medicine, lists the following as reasons for getting a DNA test.
- diagnose disease
- identify whether there’s a genetic reason that someone has a disease
- help doctors better understand the severity or type of disease you have to prescribe better treatment options
- determine what gene changes could pass to children
- identify what gene changes a parent has that they can pass on to children
Jacque Wilson of CNN says that DNA testing can not only map your family tree, but it can solve ancient mysteries like identifying the remains of a historic person or help you develop healthy routines to lose weight by understanding your genes.
No matter what reason you may have for getting a DNA test, active older adults can learn more about themselves or have some fun with the results. You might find out that you’ve got more family living just down the street or you might get to travel to some faraway place to meet a new cousin.
-Elaine of the Westminster Village Blog Team