Alzheimer’s and Dental Care
No matter what our age, we should see a dentist regularly. Even though it’s more of a task to get to appointments as our seniors age, cavities can lead to infections, which can lead to more serious illnesses. With the aged, any illness easily becomes more serious if it weakens their systems.
If your senior has Alzheimer’s disease he/she may need dental care more than anyone. For most, until you reach the last stage, a person is able to continue to clean his own teeth. If flossing is too difficult, some of the dental picks out now seem to do a good job getting between teeth and stimulating gums.
At some point in the disease, they are no longer able to brush their teeth themselves, or if they are, they are not able to do an adequate job. I’ve heard of some biting so hard on the toothbrush that they break it in half. If they resist or refuse, what is a caregiver to do?
Do What You Can
Daily care is something that still should be attempted. Some days it might work better than others. If you have another caregiver, it might help if they try it. Some days with or without a good toothbrushing, I’ll sit by mom while she watches TV. Then every so often I will ask her to open her mouth so I can get something between her teeth.
I explain what I plan to do, and use a floss pick. Sometimes she will let me keep at it for a few minutes, sometimes she doesn’t want me to.
Keep trying! It is a situation where every little bit helps. If they are able to gargle with a antiseptic mouthwash, that is another possibility. That won’t work for us any longer.
The Dentist Can Help
That brings us to the other step a caregiver can take to help. Go to the dentist regularly, especially for cleanings.
All that is why her dentist’s appointment yesterday was something I looked forward to and dreaded at the same time.
First, it isn’t easy at Mom’s age to get around very easily. Getting in and out of the car, walking down long hallways, drains her. Though the exercise is good for her, the goal is to make it as easy on her as possible.
Next, I remembered how hard it was for her when they took x-rays last time at a different dental office.
Any treatment on and in their mouths is hard to understand and hard to cope with. It can get so uncomfortable that it hurts them. It’s hard to know if they remember why a dental visit is necessary. If they don’t it must be pretty scary.
Dental Care with Alzheimer’s on Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine
When I was asked to write another article on Alzheimer’s for Jaquo Magazine, it was very timely. Since Mom had her dentist appointment scheduled for the following week, that would be the subject of the article.
Please simply click here to read the full article. In it you can read about our experience, the dentist’s recommendations, and some tips that have made it easier for Mom. What’s easier for Mom is generally easier for me too. I hope you will take a look.
If you think someone you love may have Alzheimer’s disease, may I suggest this book as essential reading? While first published twenty years ago, it is updated regularly. The last update, and this edition was 2012. It contains pre-disease information, and details on all stages. It’s a go-to book for questions. You can read my review here for further details or click the link below.
Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s is another recommended read for anyone dealing with the disease. Its premise is meeting the patient where they are. Having the disease in our family as long as we have, it is a method that seems completely natural. Please check out my review here.