The cognitive functioning decline in an elderly adult requires special care and attention to ensure they manage their needs and can stay healthy, safe, and comfortable as they age in place.
These challenges, whether caused by dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease or another issue, can make it more difficult for your loved one to manage basic activities and needs they have previously handled, such as doctor’s appointments. Proper oral health care is essential to keeping the entire body healthy and strong, but going to the dentist can be frightening and confusing for a senior dealing with memory loss and cognitive functioning decline. Taking the time to prepare your senior for this appointment can help to ease their anxiety and allow them to get the most benefit from this care.
Use these tips to prepare a senior with a cognitive functioning decline for a dentist appointment:
- Talk to them about why they need to go to the dentist. They may not remember what a dentist is or does, which can make the idea of going to this appointment very intimidating. Reminding them of why people go to the dentist can help your parent feel more at ease and less like you are trying to “inflict” something on them.
- Go over what will likely happen at the dentist. Talk about the waiting room, the examination room, and the tools they will see. Go over what the dentist and hygienist will do, including the examination, X-rays, and cleaning. Remind them they will be touched and that this is fine, and empower them to talk about any discomfort or pain they are feeling.
- Encourage them to ask any questions they might have and do your best to answer them effectively.
- Plan for plenty of time. Rushing or hurrying will increase anxiety and make the entire experience more stressful. Instead, take plenty of time to get to the appointment so you can be at ease. Avoid, however, having too long in the waiting room as this can make your parent worry.
- Consider reading a book or watching a TV show that involves a dentist so it feels more familiar to a senior with an extensive functioning decline.
Caring for an elderly adult with cognitive functioning decline can be an extremely challenging experience.
This is particularly true if you are also caring for your children and managing other needs in your life, such as a career, marriage, household, volunteering, and more responsibilities. Fortunately, you are not alone. Home care can help you ensure your parent gets the care, support, and assistance necessary to manage their challenges and fulfill their needs. The services of an in-home senior care services provider are completely customizable, which means your parent will get exactly what they need when they need it. This promotes a stronger sense of independence and autonomy while encouraging activity, engagement, and fulfillment as they age in place. The adaptable nature of the services also allows you to feel confident your parent will have what they need now and also into the future as their needs change.