Dental hygiene is one of the most important things that your elderly parent can do to keep their body healthy as they age in place. Problems in the mouth can move throughout the body, leading to infections, illnesses, and other complications in various symptoms including the heart, liver, and kidneys. Poor dental hygiene can also lead to your elderly parent not being able to eat a healthy, varied diet, preventing them from getting the full range of nutrients that their body needs to keep them at their best. Many elderly adults, however, struggle with dental hygiene needs. By understanding what is keeping your parent from taking proper care of their teeth you can take the steps that you need to in order to help them improve their dental hygiene and improve their health.
There are many reasons why your elderly adult might be struggling with their dental hygiene practices. Some of these can include:
• Cognitive challenges. If your aging parent is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, they might not have the cognitive ability to understand why they need to take care of their mouth or what they should do to fulfill this task. They might think that they have already brushed their teeth or be fearful of the practice of flossing. Helping them to understand why they need to do this or even going through the practice yourself so that they can mimic you can help this issue.
• Pain or discomfort. If your elderly parent is already suffering from dental hygiene problems, they might experience pain or discomfort when they are brushing or flossing. By identifying these areas you are better able to help them manage this pain and get them the dental care they need to resolve it.
• Using the wrong tools. One of the seemingly simplest, yet most impactful, issues that your aging parent might face when it comes to managing their oral health is the tools that they are using. Your parent’s mouth is likely much more sensitive than yours so even if you like to use a medium or hard toothbrush, your parent might find this painful. Trade their toothbrush out for a soft head. Also consider that they might not like the flavor of the toothpaste or floss that you have chosen, or that the mouthwash is too intense. These might seem like minor issues, but they can cause your parent to be less willing to use them, leading to potential health problems.
Starting elderly care for your aging parent can be a fantastic way to help them to achieve and maintain better dental hygiene as they get older. A elderly home care services provider can help your parent to understand the tasks that they need to complete in order to keep their mouth as healthy as possible, and then integrate these tasks into their usual care routine so that they are able to maintain this health throughout their later years. If your aging parent is suffering from specific limitations and challenges, the care provider can help them to address these issues in a way that allows them to maintain as much of their independence as possible. They can also evaluate your parent’s obstacles to good dental health and work with them to resolve these so that they are better able to keep up with this important element of their personal health care.