In New York’s Westchester County, an infamously wealthy suburban area outside New York City, county executive Rob Astorino was asked how Medicare recipients would chew if the state’s Medicare program no longer covered dentures (as many state’s programs don’t). He laughed dismissively and said, “Let them eat soup. Soup is good.”
Now, as a promotional spot for canned condensed soup, this may be bankable, but it’s not a wise practice for keeping our elderly healthy. Here’re five reasons why we should invest in dentures for our elderly if we want to reduce our overall Medicare costs.
Properly Fitting Dentures Improve Nutrition
Dentures that are properly fitted have been shown to improve nutrition. With better-fitting dentures, people can eat a wider variety of food, not just soft food like soup. They can eat fresh fruits and vegetables, add meat to their diet, and don’t rely on preprocessed foods high in sodium and preservatives.
With better nutrition, people are at a lower risk for many serious health conditions like heart disease, cancer, dementia, and broken bones. These are expensive conditions to treat, and if we can reduce their risk, we can reduce the overall costs of care.
Properly Fitting Dentures Reduce Falling Risk
It may seem like an odd thing, but multiple studies have shown that properly fitting dentures allow the elderly to have a more regular and stable walk, which in turn reduces their risk of falling.
Falls lead to broken bones, head trauma, and other injuries that can be expensive to treat.
Dentures Improve Memory
Dentures, by allowing people to chew can improve their memory. The stimulation of chewing impacts the structure of the brain, helping people make and retain new memories.
The better their memory, the longer the elderly can live on their own without need for expensive around-the-clock care.
Dentures Might Hold off Dementia
Along with the studies about memory, other studies have correlated tooth loss as an independent cause associated with dementia.
Again, staving off dementia increases the time that people can live on their own without residential care.
Dentures Give Improved Quality of Life
Several studies have shown that seniors who have new dentures experience a significant increase in their quality of life, associated with improved appearance, improved function, and improved self-esteem.
When we debate how our elderly should be treated, it’s important to remember that many of the people in this group are those who brought our country through many of its greatest trials, including World War II. And whether they were GIs on the front line or Rosie the Riveters back home, they now deserve our respect and proper treatment.