With the advent of Obamacare due to begin in just a couple f months, Connecticut State Department on Aging Commissioner Edith G. Prague voiced her hope that Medicare will expand its coverage to include oral healthcare as part of its program.
“Preventive oral health care is as important as preventive medical care.” Many diseases could be avoided with proper oral health care, and it should be included as part of the Affordable Care Act,” she stated.
Unfortunately recent surveys have found that dental care if often neglected, especially when it comes to “vulnerable” senior citizens, especially those living in long-term care facilities, where untreated tooth decay is becoming a major problem, both in Connecticut (where it was found that 2 out 3 seniors screened at congregate meal sites reported they have problems getting dental care and over half do not have dental insurance), as well as throughout the rest of the nation.
“Oral health is integral to overall good health, but is often an overlooked aspect of an older adult’s general health,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “This oversight is especially true for vulnerable older adults with impaired mobility, diminished sensory awareness, multiple chronic health conditions, and social and economic limitations.”
As a result, Connecticut’s Health Department is launching a new a new Oral Health for Older Adults Consortium task force this month to provide educational programs for nursing home staff and administrators to increase their awareness of the importance of daily oral hygiene care is for their patients. In addition, the DPH is working to increase the communication between medical and dental providers for the elderly.