FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
February 26, 2008 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford– The Task Force on Oral Health of Older Adults released its report Just the F.A.C.T.S after a year-long review of oral health concerns of older adults in Connecticut. The F.A.C.T.S. are Financial, Advocacy, Communication, Treatment and Services strategies to improve the oral health and overall health of Connecticut’s older adult residents.
The task force was formed last year by the Department of Public Health after concerns from the community were raised about access to oral health services. The task force included representatives from the Connecticut Association of Agencies on Aging, AARP, Connecticut Association for Not-for-Profit Providers for the Aging, Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, Connecticut Alzheimer’s Association, Connecticut Dental Hygienists’ Association, Inc., Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, Connecticut Department of Social Services, Connecticut Health Foundation, Connecticut Oral Health Initiative, Connecticut State Dental Association, the Office of Long Term Care Ombudsman, and the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine.
“We asked the task force members to come up with actionable strategies, those that can be implemented now without a lot of planning and allocation of new funds,” said Dr. Norma Gyle, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Public Health. “I know it was a tall order but they succeeded. I am pleased that many of the strategies focus on what the different community organizations and agencies that work with older adults can do to support improved oral health for this population and not just what state government can do,” she said.
The older adult population in the U.S. is projected to increase by 126 percent over the next 50 years. Currently in Connecticut, the elderly population represents approximately 14 percent of the population.
According to Dr. Ardell Wilson, State Oral Health Director, “Many older adults are not aware of where or how to access dental services in their community. Obstacles to oral healthcare include limited knowledge about dental insurance coverage and out-of-pocket costs, limited public transportation options, reduced retirement income and knowledge about the importance of oral health to overall health. Just the F.A.C.T.S. outlines strategies to address each of these issues.”
“Not all the strategies are easy to implement,” said Marty Milkovic, Executive Director of the Connecticut Oral Health Initiative. “There are simple and cost effective strategies, like labeling dentures for nursing home patients. Denture replacement costs can be avoided for families when dentures are routinely labeled. There are also strategies that support training of medical providers to understand and recognize the importance of oral health to overall health in older adults. Recognizing the impact of oral disease on chronic disease management is critical to improving overall health of older adults, but not an easy fix.”
The Task Force on Oral Health of Older Adults believes that addressing the strategies that are outlined in Just the FACTS will have an immediate and profound impact on improving the oral health and overall health of older adults in the state. The task force also plans an event to promote the awareness of the importance of oral health for senior citizen on March 5, 2008 at the Legislative Office Building.
For more information, visit the Department of Public Health, Office of Oral Health website at http://www.ct.gov/dph.