Dental Issues & Dementia

Communication can become a struggle if your loved one has dementia. It might be difficult for them to explain when they're hurting, even when it's something as simple as a toothache.

Scott Silknitter from Caregiving 101 stopped by the Good Morning Show with ways to address dental issues with your aging family members.

First, its important to note the signs of tooth pain. People with dementia might communicate their pain by:

  • not eating
  • becoming angry and combative
  • trying to get out of the house to get away from their pain

It's crucial for caregivers to pay close attention, and try to figure out what is causing the behavior. You have to keep your cool and use a process of elimination.

Mealtime is typically the best time to identify dental issues for the following reasons:

  • Your loved one may refuse to come to the table to eat
  • They might grimace when they eat something that is hot or cold
  • They might cry because they're hungry, but still won't eat because of the pain

Pet Therapy for the Elderly

Silknitter also discussed how pets can help family caregivers, and why many nursing homes are starting to use forms of pet therapy.

He says studies have found the presence of a gentle and friendly dog is associated with reduced need for medication and improved physical activity.

It's important to remember, caregivers need to be mindful of the responsibilities and costs associated with adopting an animal. If that is too overwhelming, there are groups that can arrange visits to your home with trained therapy dogs. If you don’t use the internet, you can usually find information about pet therapy volunteers from local nursing homes, health departments and even pet stores.

If you would like to contact Scott, you can reach him here.