A lot of seniors feel blessed that they’ve managed to maintain their natural teeth. It’s not always an easy thing to do. When mobility problems set in, or troubles with mental health, dental hygiene can become a difficult task.
When this happens, it often becomes the responsibility of a family caregiver. It’s an important one too, just as vital to senior care as maintaining good nutrition and exercise.
Why is dental care important for seniors?
The most obvious answer is because it affects the way we consume food. Poor teeth often cause pain and lead seniors to refuse to eat. Even more alarming, however, is the fact that cavities and gum diseases can lead to serious infections. Dental abscesses, or a build up of infectious fluids, can often burst and drain into the bloodstream. This can cause sepsis and other nasty complications that are even harder to treat. That’s why proper dental care is extremely important, and why treatment is an urgent matter when problems arise.
How do I care for an elder loved one’s teeth?
This can be an awkward situation at first, for both family caregivers and their loved ones. The most important skill to have is patience. Allow time for everyone to adjust and don’t rush. Begin in a comfortable location. Some prefer to be in the bathroom while others like the open space of the kitchen or a bedroom. If the preferred location doesn’t have a sink, keep a bowl and a glass of water nearby for rinsing. Remember to brush and floss. If you’re unsure how to do this as a caregiver, there are online guides and instructional videos to show you how.
To help ease stress, try the tell-show-do method. First, tell your senior what you will do, then show them how you will do it. Finally, do it exactly as you described you would. Make sure you listen to and observe your loved one’s reactions. If they are uncomfortable, back up, wait, and try again.
If you are still unsure or not confident that you can handle this task, consider consulting with a dentist for advice. Alternatively, a professional home caregiver can make sure it’s done correctly. Be sure to ask your local home care agencies if their caregivers are trained to provide dental care.
What do I do if my loved one can’t afford to see a dentist?
This is a difficult situation to find yourself in. Medicare doesn’t cover dental care and most Medicaid programs only cover very specific circumstances if any at all. In fact, nearly 20% of senior Americans have untreated cavities, often due to lack of affordability. Luckily, there are many community programs dedicated to tackling this problem. Some offer care on a sliding scale, and often there are annual events dedicated to giving people free dental care. Check with your local senior center and other community organizations to see what is available in your area.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Homecare in Gulfport, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.
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