The risk of developing dental problems increases with age, and some seniors have health conditions such as dementia that can complicate their oral hygiene routines. Practising good oral hygiene can be difficult for seniors with dementia because they may forget to brush their teeth or have difficulty flossing on their own. Family caregivers have several options for helping their elderly loved ones with dementia maintain good oral health. Here are a few strategies you can use to help your parent prevent gum disease, cavities, and other oral issues.
1. Use Reminders & Alarms
Seniors with dementia may sometimes forget to complete their oral hygiene routines. For these seniors, smartphone alarms or reminders from caregivers can be beneficial. Reminders like these can help your parent know when it’s time to complete his or her oral care routine. You could also try connecting toothbrushing to other components of your loved one’s routine, such as washing his or her face in the morning and taking his or her evening bath, so he or she knows when to expect it.
2. Try a Water Flosser
If your parent is unable to floss without assistance, you’ll need to look for alternative methods for cleaning between his or her teeth. Your loved one may resist if you try to use regular dental floss on his or her teeth yourself, so consider trying a water flosser. This safe tool uses high-speed water jets to painlessly remove bits of food from the spaces between the teeth.
If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care service families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
3. Watch for Signs of Discomfort
Some seniors may not be able to vocalize when they’re experiencing pain in the gums or teeth, so observe closely when you help your loved one brush and floss his or her teeth. If your parent grimaces or resists letting you brush a specific part of his or her mouth, there might be an issue that requires a visit to the dentist.
4. Create a Simple Instructional Chart
If your loved one is in the later stages of dementia, he or she may not remember how to brush his or her teeth. Your parent might skip an important step, such as squeezing toothpaste onto the toothbrush. You can help by creating a chart with photos and simple sentences to list the steps your loved one needs to follow. You may still need to be close by to ensure your parent doesn’t skip any steps, but allowing him or her to brush his or her own teeth can boost your loved one’s sense of independence.
There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional elder care. Edmonton families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
5. Keep Up with Dental Exams
Regular dental exams are necessary to identify minor issues before they develop into serious problems, but seniors with dementia can sometimes get agitated if they have to sit for too long in the dentist’s chair. Alert the dentist’s office about your loved one’s condition, and try scheduling your parent’s dental appointments so he or she is less likely to experience agitation caused by having to sit in the chair for a prolonged period. For example, your parent could have a dental exam one week and then go back the next week for a cleaning.
Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Edmonton families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337.