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This article was published May 1, 2014 at 2:13 a.m.

DEAR READERS: Tracing your genealogy can be fun. Of course, it’s a source of history and family, but it also can help you learn about many medical conditions that may be passed down to the next generation. Here are some hints for getting started:

There are many free family-tree “forms” online. Print one out, start with what you know and work backward.These forms are a good starting point.

Contact as many of your relatives as you can to find out what they know. Do keep good notes, because once they are gone, you will not be able to ask those questions.

Don’t look just for birth and death certificates. Marriage licenses, census reports, cemetery records, etc., all can provide helpful information.

Check the library to see if it has a genealogy section.

P.S.: Even tape or video-record a brief conversation. It will be priceless later on.

DEAR HELOISE: I use those wide rubber bands that are found on broccoli to slip onto the caps of our prescription bottles - one color for mine, and a different for my husband’s. It’s easier to open the caps, and you can see at a glance which meds are for each person.

  • Faye B., Evart, Mich.

DEAR HELOISE: To have a clean garbage disposal, this is what I do: I use a vegetable brush with the longest handle I could find. I put baking soda on the brush and scrub inside the disposal. Then I run lots of water, and it takes odor and scum away.

  • Betty K. in Ohio

DEAR READER: Just a touch of baking soda keeps things fresh and clean (especially in the garbage disposal). When done cleaning, make sure your vegetable brush is labeled “for disposal cleaning only.” Occasional sprinkles of baking soda in the bottom of the dishwasher between uses will help with odors.

DEAR HELOISE: I am an 84-year-old in good health who lives alone. I and several of my contemporaries have started a “Good Morning” email, which is sent first thing each morning by the earliest riser, and the recipients each “reply to all.” Each of us has given an emergency contact to the others. If we fail to receive a response by midmorning, we begin to do a little checking. This assures us that the senior is OK, and that any pets are cared for in an emergency.

  • A Friend in Houston.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

Weekend, Pages 36 on 05/01/2014

Print Headline: HELPFUL HINTS


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