Please Ask Before Helping An Elder

As a caregiver, you might experience some frustrations. Some of you might wish someone told you how tough being a caregiver would be.

If you are an aging adult, you might begin to realize that you might need care might and you might not be sure who to turn to.

I have worked with elders for over 20 years now and been to many nursing homes.

I hope what I’m going to share with you today will help both caregivers and older adults living at home.

Seek Consent

As we age, our health declines and we might not be able to do all the things that we would do before.

Our world gets smaller because we can’t drive ourselves or go out as easily as we used to. Some of us might have also lost friends. And sometimes, we feel we are losing control.

Our adult children might want to take over at this point. While children feel it is their responsibility to care for their aging parents, they have to seek their consent first.

This includes engaging in conversation with them before making decisions. For example, before helping your parents you can say, “ Dad, I see that you might need help to fix this. Can I help?”

Asking for permission before stepping in allows the elders to maintain some control.

Should We Put Seniors in Nursing Homes?

It is difficult for many people to put their loved ones in long-term care. I know because I promised my grandmother and myself that I would never put her in a nursing home.

But it became difficult for me to care for her and keep up with her medications. The best alternative was to put her in a nursing home. However, I made sure that I went to see her every day.

If you are an older adult who wants to stay at home, you have to remain active. You must be able to continue to bathe, take medications, and brush your teeth or dentures.

This can be a lot of work for most seniors, especially if you are experiencing memory loss. In this case, it would be best to consider a nursing home.

For me, it was my last resort to put my grandmother in a nursing home, but I was convinced that it was the right thing for both of us.

Oral Care for Seniors

If you have your own teeth, make sure that you brush them properly. If you have dentures, remove and clean them daily.

Not removing dentures could cause complications, such as oral thrush, odors, and irritation. Educating seniors on the importance of removing dentures and other oral hygiene procedures will reduce such complications.

Never sleep in your dentures. If you sleep in dentures, the bacteria, food, or plaque that got on your dentures during the day you inhale this in, causing infection.

Another important piece of advice  I would give you if you are an older adult caring for yourself is to never brush your dentures with toothpaste.

Dentures are acrylic and are not as hard as teeth. Clean them with a liquid designed for dentures or with regular soap.

The fluoride on the toothpaste is quite abrasive and could cause cracks in the dentures, which traps bacterial that can make you sick or cause a mouth odor.

Learn more about taking care of seniors oral care needs

If you work at a long-term care facility and would like to learn more about the oral care of seniors, Invite me, Sonya Dunbar, to train your staff.

I am a registered dental hygienist, TEDx, and national public speaker guided by decades of dental experience in a private practice, nursing homes, and academia.


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