Maintaining good oral health can be challenging for seniors with dementia if they have difficulty remembering to brush their teeth or get agitated during long dental visits. As your senior loved one’s caregiver, you have many options for helping him or her practice good oral hygiene. These are just a few of the strategies you can add to your loved one’s care plan to prevent cavities and gum disease.
Set an Alarm
Remembering to brush their teeth is one of the biggest challenges seniors with dementia face when it comes to oral care. Setting a reminder alarm helps your loved one know when it’s time to perform his or her oral hygiene routine. You can also tie toothbrushing in with other parts of the routine, such as putting on pajamas, so it feels more natural for your loved one.
Try Using a Water Flosser
If your loved one can’t floss his or her teeth independently, you might need to explore other ways to clean between his or her teeth. Trying to use a dental pick or string floss yourself might be difficult, especially if your loved one balks at the idea. A water flosser is a safer alternative that removes food particles from the spaces between the teeth without causing discomfort.
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 families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
Stay Alert for Signs of Pain
Seniors with dementia might not be able to tell their caregivers when they have pain in their teeth or gums. Watch your loved one carefully as you help with brushing his or her teeth. If your loved one winces or refuses to let you brush a part of his or her mouth, he or she might have a problem that needs attention from the dentist.
Use Visual Aids
Seniors in the middle to late stages of dementia might forget how to brush their teeth. For instance, they might forget a step, such as putting toothpaste on the brush. You can create a chart with short sentences and pictures to walk your loved one through the procedure. Keep in mind you may still want to be there to make sure your loved one doesn’t miss a step, but this helps him or her stay more independent.
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 homecare services. Rocklin families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Make Toothbrushing Fun
Your loved one might grumble about toothbrushing if he or she is having a bad day. When this happens, you can turn oral hygiene into an opportunity to bond. Try playing your loved one’s favorite song, or brush your teeth together. Even picking out a toothbrush that’s your loved one’s favorite color could ease his or her frustration with this part of the daily routine.
Break Up Dental Visits into Shorter Appointments
A senior with dementia may get agitated if he or she sits too long in a dentist’s chair. Many procedures can be broken up into shorter appointments. For example, you could have your loved one receive a dental cleaning one week and follow it up with an exam the next. You can also let the dentist know beforehand if you anticipate any challenges so he or she can prepare.
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. Rocklin 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 (916) 226-3737.