Observing Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Senior Living

shutterstock_489814927October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual campaign that aims to increase awareness of the disease. The risk of developing breast cancer increases dramatically with age, making seniors the most likely age group to develop it. In fact, approximately 24 percent of breast cancer cases in the United States are diagnosed in women aged seventy to eighty-four years old. For this reason, many senior living communities spend the entire month raising awareness, holding fundraisers, and doing other activities that make an impact and help others. Below are just some of the ways that these communities participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Informational Classes

Many senior living brands offer monthly health seminars that focus on a particular topic. During October, Brookdale Senior Living offers a “lunch and learn” class to its residents about the importance of breast cancer treatment and prevention, featuring a board-certified medical oncologist with the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Other communities host guest speakers who have personally battled and survived breast cancer with the hope that their stories will bring more awareness to the disease.

Screenings and Exams

Early detection of breast cancer is essential because, when caught quickly, many types can be treated with less aggressive methods. It is especially vital for seniors who may have serious health conditions and cannot withstand a surgery or intensive chemotherapy. For example, early detection can result in a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy (the removal of all breast tissue from a breast). For this reason, many communities host screenings for their residents and even bring in medical professionals to do free breast exams to teach seniors how to perform self-examinations.

Walk for a Cause

Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that walking at least seven hours per week is associated with a 14 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause. A great way to get moving and raise awareness for the cause is to participate in a breast cancer walk. One of the largest is the Susan G. Komen Walk for a Cure, a national event that takes place in several different cities. Many senior living communities across the nation organize team members of both residents and staff to participate in their local walk to find a cure.

Community Fundraisers

Plenty of other fundraisers contribute toward breast cancer since walking may not be an option for residents with limited mobility. Some communities have bake sales, sell handmade crafts, hold raffles, and sell pink clothing items to raise money for the cause. They then give the proceeds to local breast cancer organizations, hospitals, local cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers to assist with resources and support.

Caring for Others

In many communities, local residents suffer from breast cancer. Another way senior living communities support the cause is by caring for their ailing neighbors. Residents make them meals, send care packages, and simply spend time with them when they are feeling down.

Raising Awareness

Raising awareness for breast cancer is crucial since many people are not aware of the significance of early detection and prevention. In addition to holding fundraisers, participating in walks, and holding informational classes, many senior living communities raise awareness in a variety of other ways. For example, residents and staff members wear pink to honor breast cancer survivors throughout the month and decorate the community with pink.

shutterstock_316349876National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and screening of breast cancer. Both seniors and young adults should do their utmost to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. Though everyone should remain vigilant, it is recommended that women between the ages of fifty and seventy-five receive annual mammograms. It is also a good idea to educate senior caregivers on breast cancer warning signs, since some older adults are not as likely to notice the symptoms on their own. Aside from a breast lump, changes in breast appearance and sensation are two of the main symptoms to look for. As information about the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer can ultimately save lives, the goal of each and every senior living community should be to bring as much attention and information to the disease as possible.

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