What are National Health Observances?
There are many health conditions that touch millions of Americans every year. During National Health Observances, we dedicate specific days, weeks, or months to raise awareness about important health topics and bring them into the public discourse.
Every month has a range of different health observances, and we talk about them here on the Bridgeway blog when they’re relevant to our residents and families.
November seems especially rich in health observances, so today I want to talk about several of the top month-long health observances to know about this month.
National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia—a group of conditions that cause progressive mental deterioration. Alzheimer’s disease has no cure, and it is always fatal. There are treatments available to temporarily slow the disease’s progression and improve quality of life. As America ages, Alzheimer’s disease is becoming a troubling health concern
The earliest symptom of Alzheimer’s disease is having trouble remembering recently learned information. The symptoms worsen as time goes on, showing confusion, mood changes, behavioral changes, paranoia, serious memory loss, and eventually, difficulty speaking and walking.
To learn more about the disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association at http://alz.org.
American Diabetes Month
Diabetes happens when your blood sugar is too high, because of insufficient or ineffective insulin. Our bodies are supposed to extract sugar from our food and channel it to the cells to convert to energy and fuel cell function. Insulin is an important part of this process, shepherding the glucose out of your blood stream into your cell. When there’s not enough of it, or it’s not working well, the sugar builds up in your blood and develops into diabetes.
Diabetes leads to many serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. There is no cure, but with proper management, most people manage to keep their diabetes under control. It’s also a highly preventable disease. To learn more about the disease and how to prevent or control it, visit the American Diabetes Association at http://www.diabetes.org/.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Awareness Month
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. Most cases are a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, presenting as long-term coughing with mucus and lung damage. The main cause of COPD is smoking or exposure to heavy secondhand smoke. The longer you smoke, the higher your chance of developing COPD.
To learn more about COPD, visit the COPD Foundation at http://www.copdfoundation.org.
National Family Caregivers Month
More than 44 million Americans care for a sick or disabled family member, friend, or neighbor. Around 15.7 million of them care for someone who has Alzhiemer’s disease or other dementia. Caregivers are dedicated, unselfish, hardworking, and devoted in their care to their loved ones. They often do this while working full or part time or caring for the rest of their family.
If you’re a caregiver, reach out to others for help and make use of all the resources available to you. If you’re the family member of a caregiver, offer your help as much as possible to take the burden off the primary caregiver. For more information and resources, visit http://caregiving.org.
National Hospice Palliative Care Month
Hospice and palliative care focus on the dignity of the individual and the right to compassionate end-of-life care. Hospice care involves expert medical care, pain management, and emotional support, all tailored to the patient and his family’s wishes. Many people only consult with hospice experts at the very end of their lives. In fact, the time to seek hospice care is at the very beginning of the terminal diagnosis, when you can make your medical decisions with the help of the hospice team.
To learn more about hospice and palliative care, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at https://www.nhpco.org.
There are several other health observances this month, including:
- Bladder Health Month
- Diabetic Eye Disease Month
- National Healthy Skin Month
- Lung Cancer Awareness Month
- Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month
- National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month
- World Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 12-18)
- Great American Smokeout (Nov. 16)
- GERD Awareness Week (Nov. 19-25)
- National Family Health History Day (Nov. 22)
If you’d like us to cover any of these topics in depth, drop us a line in the comments!