Poor oral health is a serious issue in people over 65
Way too many people over 65 are not getting the dental care they need. Simultaneously, older people are at risk of poor brushing and flossing habits.
Depression, loss of motor skills, and loss of mobility can all play a part in reduced brushing and flossing. Also, many people over 65 are extremely proud and unwilling to ask for help.
Risks of poor oral hygiene for seniors
Statistics tell a sad tale about tooth loss in those over 65. According to the National Institutes of Health, over half of the people in that age group have some kind of periodontal disease, though many such diseases are fully correctable.
Caregivers also need to know that nineteen percent of seniors have lost all their teeth. And no fewer than four hundred medications make tooth and gum disease a higher risk for your parents and grandparents.
Losing a substantial number of teeth is not just embarrassing. It can lead to social isolation which, in turn, leads to depression. Caregivers might be surprised to learn that losing one’s teeth can cause speech difficulties. That makes it harder for seniors to communicate with friends and loved ones.
Tooth loss also causes a change in diet. When fresh fruits and vegetables become too difficult to chew, seniors resort to processed food. And processed food is not as healthy as fresh.
Cost is the main problem
It’s rarely the case that mom or dad doesn’t want to go to the dentist. It’s more likely he or she can’t afford it. Dental surgery can be astronomically expensive. Routine x-rays and teeth cleanings can cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket.
Unfortunately, when people retire, they mostly lose their employer-based dental insurance. And, if their teeth don’t hurt, they may neglect to buy dental insurance when they still have good oral health. That, however, is the best time to buy dental coverage.
What you can do
If you can afford to buy dental insurance for your senior, or pay out of pocket for her care, that’s the easiest option. If mom is too proud to accept help, tell her you worked out a deal with the dentist and let her pay a token amount.
In a few states, Medicaid will pick up some costs of dental care. It’s worth checking it out here.
If Medicaid is not an option, you may wish to contact schools of dentistry. These schools sometimes perform dental care at reduced costs or free. Individual dental students also sometimes need to log hours of dental care to become certified. And they will treat certain conditions at no cost to get their needed experience. They often post on Nextdoor.com and Craigslist.
The United Way has a mission to help seniors find affordable solutions to dental care. Contact your local United Way chapter or visit www.unitedway.org or call 211.
Good oral health is much easier and cheaper to maintain than to recover. Ideally, caregivers are proactive about preventing the kind of gum loss and tooth decay that lead to surgery. If you suspect your senior is not brushing and flossing enough, home care can be of great assistance. Home care professionals can help a disabled senior brush his teeth efficiently and also floss a few times a week. Dental care is definitely an arena where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you or an aging loved one is considering caregivers in East Brunswick, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care today. Call (732) 607-8870.
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