National Health Observances: November 2011

What’s on your wellness calendar this month? Here’s a quick and easy run-down of each month’s national health observances along with a quick tip, resource or task to help you promote health and take action.

November is:

American Diabetes Month

Around 26 million people in the United States suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is a killer: It doubles a person’s risk for having a heart attack or stroke and is the leading cause of blindness, kidney disease and amputation.

Type 2 diabetes (which accounts for 90-95% of all diabetes diagnoses) is preventable, and those that already have diabetes can control it with proper diet, physical activity, maintaining a health weight and not smoking.

Raise awareness of diabetes in your workplace: Share My Health Advisor with your employees and encourage them to use it to calculate their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Distribute a healthy recipe. Or find an event in your area and organize a group to participate.

Great American Smokeout (Nov. 17)

This annual event is meant to encourage smokers to plan a quit day — or plan in advance to quit smoking on this day. Quitting tobacco is tough, but setting a goal and seeking support can make a huge difference.

Help your employees quit smoking: Organize a workplace stop-smoking support group. (You can do this in tandem with a group smoking cessation program, too.) Announce the Great American Smokeout and promote it as a workplace quit date. Share desktop stop-smoking helpers and allow employees to download and install them. On November 17, host a cigarette swap, where employees can trade in individual cigarettes for small prizes or a whole pack for a nicer incentive.

Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Many of your employees may be caring for an elderly relative at home. Alzheimer’s is one of the primary reasons elder care is needed and affects 6.6 million employees who provide elder care, causing a great deal of financial and emotional stress.

Encourage employees to take action: Does your organization provide EAP services for elder care counseling or elder care benefits? If so, make sure your employees are aware of those services. If not, look for resources in your community that employees may be able to take advantage of, like a local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Consider offering flex time or starting a support group for elder care providers. The Alzheimer’s Association also promotes Casual for a Cause, asking employees to donate a small amount ($5 or so) in exchange for wearing jeans to work.