Dental care is important at every stage of life, and sometimes older adults start to struggle to take care of their own teeth. This can be due to a lack of mobility, memory problems, or transportation issues. Thankfully, there are a lot of things that you can do to help your older friend or family member keep up with their dental health.
1. Offer to take them to their appointments.
Even if your loved one does still drive from time to time, they may be a bit nervous about climbing behind the wheel, and that nervousness may deter them from doing things like scheduling dental visits. Offer to drive them to their dental appointments. Then, at the first appointment — since you are there already — you can make sure the next appointment is scheduled for a time you are available.
2. Listen and take notes at the dentist
If your loved one is comfortable with you coming into the room with them while they have their teeth cleaned and examined, do so. This allows you to listen to the advice and guidance from your dentist so you can repeat it later on or help them follow it. For example, if the dentist recommends that they start using a fluoride rinse, you can then go buy the fluoride rinse for them and remind them to use it. Older adults often appreciate having a second, younger set of ears around to listen.
3. Buy dental care supplies for them.
Your older loved one might forget to buy new toothbrushes when they go to the store, or they may simply not remember when they last changed their toothbrush. If you can purchase these items for them to ensure they always have adequate dental supplies on-hand, that will go a long way. Also, consider setting a reminder on your phone every three months. You can change your toothbrush and remind your older friend to do the same.
4. Ask them about their teeth and gums.
Sometimes older adults start to feel like a burden on those around them, which makes them a little hesitant to bring up health issues. However, if you ask them periodically how their teeth are feeling or whether their gums have been sensitive, they are more likely to answer honestly. This can help ensure you find out about any issues early on so you can help them get to the dentist and get it taken care of.
As the loved ones in your life grow older, sometimes you have to take a more proactive role in their dental care. If you take the steps above, you can rest assured that you're doing the best for your loved one.