November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to celebrate (and thank) the millions of people who selflessly provide care to a loved one either due to illness, disability, aging or mental decline. You may be surprised to learn that 22 million of these caregivers are also working outside of the home, according to the Caregiver Action Network.
You likely know employees within your company who assist a family member at home. Here’s what you need to know in order to sufficiently support them.
Caregiving Is Stressful
A joint study done by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute found that when working caregivers become emotionally and physically stressed with the responsibility of care, they are likely to cut back on their own employment. This November is a great opportunity to honor and recognize those who have been balancing their work responsibilities with caring for a family member. Your company can offer vital support that makes their lives a bit easier.
Assisting Caregiver Employees Is Important
One valuable tool that can help ease the burden for a caregiver and keep them productive in the workplace is Assisting Caregiving Employees (ACE), a program of the Caregiver Action Network. Not only does this support caregivers with monthly newsletters and caregiving tools and resources (including webinars and videos), it provides access to an organizational assessment, internal rollout plan and other benefits. This is an effective way to help your colleagues reduce the stress of their responsibilities at home and at work.
Don’t Let Oral Care Fall Short
One area of caregiving that can sometimes be difficult to manage is oral care. No matter the age of the person needing care, oral health is still a critical part of overall wellness and should not be neglected. A daily oral hygiene routine is a necessity since not doing enough to prevent tooth decay and gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
Here are some oral health tips you can pass along to ensure your employees’ loved ones don’t fall prey to a serious dental complication:
- Schedule regular dental examinations, oral cancer screenings and cleanings. A dentist will assess the individual’s treatment and home care needs and then review the plan with the caregiver.
- Preemptively advise the dentist of any special needs a loved one might have, so they can accommodate them on the day of their appointment.
- If there’s a lot of decay present in the patient’s teeth or gums, a dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment and/or the use of a fluoride rinse.
- If an individual has arthritis or a disability that makes brushing and flossing difficult, the dentist can suggest ways to modify their toothbrush, making it easier to use. Other cleaning aids—like floss threaders and interdental cleaners—may also be beneficial.
- When a person’s disability prevents them from cleaning their own teeth, a dentist can demonstrate how to best do the job. A water flosser or electric brush may help get the job done.
- Individuals wearing dentures or partials still need regular dental examinations of their gums, cancer screenings and checks on how their appliance is fitting.
- Dentures and partials need to be cleaned on a daily basis, as well as the gums and tongue. Appliances should be stored in water or a denture solution at night.
- Let the dentist know if the individual is having trouble eating or recently lost their appetite. This can be a sign of tooth decay, a broken tooth or an ill-fitting denture.
- It’s important to provide healthy meals, limit sugary snacks (and sodas) and have loved ones drink lots of water to keep their mouth moist. Dry mouth is often caused by medications or illnesses and can contribute to decay and gum disease.
All caregivers could benefit from a little extra recognition to boost their morale. So, spread the word throughout your office about National Family Caregivers Month and pay tribute to those special people who have been willing to take on a significant task out of love and compassion.
Interested in other effective ways to engage and support your fellow employees? Visit United Concordia Dental’s website and explore its comprehensive Employer Toolkit for more ideas.