As we age, any number of unexpected conditions can lead to serious consequences. For example, a fall at home could lead to a hip fracture. A hastily planned discharge from the hospital can lead to infection, confusion, or readmission to the hospital. While we try our very best to prevent health problems, sometimes we don’t look in the right places.
Did you know that dental health complications can be especially dangerous for older adults? Here are a few considerations to know about the connection between dental health and overall health for seniors.
Poor Dental Health Can Lead to Poor Nutrition
Seniors who live with missing teeth, painful gums, or other dental issues are at a higher risk of poor nutrition. If your aging loved one is losing weight or seems to be only picking at the meal on their dinner plate, it may be related to their dental situation. If you notice changes in your loved one’s dietary preferences, consider scheduling an appointment with the dentist. Malnutrition can lead to weight loss, infection, and a lower immune system if not addressed in a timely fashion.
Poor Dental Health Can Lead to Isolation
Seniors who live at home alone or with a partner are already vulnerable to the dangers of isolation. However, it can become even easier to decline an invitation to socialize with friends or family when they are self-conscious about their smile or if they have pain while eating. Isolation can be dangerous for seniors and can even accelerate memory loss. Perhaps a trip to the dentist can get your loved one the confidence they need to get back out into their community.
Poor Dental Health Can Be Complicated
When we hear about dental health or oral hygiene, we often just think of brushing and flossing. However, for seniors, oral hygiene can be much more complicated. Brushing and flossing require a lot of fine motor skills and finesse, which can be elusive for seniors with arthritis or a history of a stroke. Medications can also cause dental problems like bleeding gums. Further, some seniors simply cannot afford basic dental care, let alone more complex care like extraction or denture fittings.
If your loved one is struggling with their dental health, you can help by calling in the team at CaringGivers. Not only can our caregivers provide cueing and assistance to increase good dental habits, we can also provide transportation and companionship during dental visits. We would love to develop a plan that supports your loved one. Call us today to learn more.