The senior years are full of challenges that can interfere with the ability to care for teeth and gums. While the risk of tooth decay and gum disease increases with age, seniors can take action now to prevent oral health issues. As a caregiver, you can help your aging loved one prevent painful dental problems by following these five simple oral hygiene tips.
1. Limit Sugary Drinks
A person’s sense of taste begins to diminish in the senior years, which is why many seniors love sweet tea and other sugary drinks. However, sugary drinks cause bacteria inside the mouth to work to break the sugar down, producing acids in the process. These acids are responsible for the enamel erosion that leads to sensitivity and decay. Seniors should also limit their alcohol intake, since wine and liquor are also full of sugar.
2. Use Assistive Devices
Seniors with arthritis or weak grips sometimes have difficulty brushing their teeth effectively. Look for special devices that can help your loved one hold the toothbrush, such as a special strap that goes around the brush and the whole hand. Electronic toothbrushes also help seniors brush in circular motions when they have limited hand mobility. Water flossers also help seniors clean those tricky spaces between teeth that tend to trap food particles and plaque.
A professional caregiver can help your loved one adopt good dental practices. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality at-home care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.
3. Keep Up with Exams & Cleanings
Many seniors can’t drive on their own and need transportation assistance to get to dental appointments. Make sure your loved one has a safe and reliable way to get to dental exams. This way, he or she can benefit from a thorough cleaning, and small problems can be caught early when they are more manageable.
Living with serious health conditions can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Richmond seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
4. Eat Nutritious Foods
Celery is sometimes referred to as nature’s toothbrush because it removes tartar from the teeth. Seniors can boost their oral health by adding vegetables, lean meat, and nutrients such as calcium to their diets to keep their teeth strong. Following a healthy diet also means seniors are less likely to eat junk food associated with tooth decay.
5. Set a Timer
Alarms are wonderful tools for helping seniors stay on track with their daily routines, and it’s easy for older adults to forget to brush their teeth on busy days. Seniors can set alarms on their watches or phones, or they can use motion-activated systems to remind them to brush when they enter the bathroom. They can also set timers to make sure they brush for the full two minutes it takes to really clean teeth, or they can brush to their favorite songs to make oral hygiene a little more fun.
Family caregivers should be especially vigilant about dental health issues if their loved ones have serious medical conditions. 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 senior home care Richmond, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To create a customized in-home care plan for your loved one, call us at (804) 207-4746.