|Care Advocate Newsletter|
|Past Issues | Download PDF||Fall 2013|
If your friend or relative is a resident of a nursing home or long-term care facility, they are most likely continually monitored and assisted with daily mouth care by the nurses and CNAs as necessary. It is also valuable though for you to be knowledgeable about symptoms, potential problems and effective strategies to resolve them. Although there are several oral diseases associated with aging, the three most common are:
If left untreated, these diseases can cause serious problems, including:
Since dementia increases the perception of threats and decreases the capability to comprehend instructions and communicate, it is no surprise that residents may become uncooperative, agitated or depressed and even resist care by aggression or avoidance.
Some telltale symptoms that may indicate dental problems include: (1) Tugging or frequently feeling the face or mouth, (2) Removing dentures repeatedly, (3) Increased moaning or crying out, (4) Changes in sleep patterns and daily routines, or (5) Refusal to eat (especially hot or cold foods) or loss of appetite
There are constructive steps and procedures, however, that can be pursued to ensure good oral care. If you are a family member or close friend, you can provide important information about the resident’s dental history, practices and attitudes toward dentists and oral treatments. You can also facilitate dental care if the person is more comfortable with your presence during treatments or procedures. Ideally, in the early stages of dementia, your friend or relative will be able to handle routine functions such as brushing teeth and be cooperative and responsive to questions and directions. This would also be a good time to work with their dentist to develop a long-term treatment plan and to provide as much treatment as possible to establish the best possible oral health. In the later stages, the goal will shift to maintaining oral health, alleviating pain and discomfort and avoiding infection.
Helpful Strategies and Products
Your relative’s nurse and CNA have received special training to make sure that good oral care is maintained and to recognize any physical or cognitive changes. When you visit, speak with them about any issues that may arise. The overall goal is to maintain independence as long as possible, encouraging the resident to perform the steps he or she can manage and assisting with the rest. You might want to review with their caregivers the following techniques which have proven successful:
In addition to behavioral techniques, there are certain products that can facilitate daily mouth care:
In conclusion, good oral hygiene can certainly be a challenge for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. While independence should be stressed, memory and abilities will change and must be continuously addressed by staff. Good mouth care, however, will reduce discomfort, prevent oral and other more serious diseases and provide a positive impact on the overall quality of life.
|We wish to acknowledge Forest Laboratories, Inc. for making this newsletter possible.|
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|Resources & Events|
Mouth Care Without
“Daily Oral Care for the Nursing Home Resident with Dementia” Training Program for RN/LPNs and CNAs (two videos and a Daily Oral Care Manual (PDF), Isabella Geriatric Center and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. Contact Betty Lehmann at
“MOUTh Technique” (Managing Oral Hygiene Using Threat Reduction) www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110501183823.htm