The Kensington White Plains remains committed to educating families and their loved ones on pressing senior health initiatives, including our recently held event, “Optimal Speech, Language, and Swallowing Health.”
This event put a spotlight on senior oral health, a crucial yet overlooked aspect of overall well-being.
Guiding the insightful conversation were Susan Russo and Naomi Favreau, experienced Speech-Language Pathologists from the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital.
Their extensive backing in treating neurological disorders in adults has prepared them to offer invaluable advice and strategies on senior oral health care.
To stay updated and to RSVP for upcoming events, don’t forget to keep an eye on our events page regularly.
In this article, we’ll be condensing the top senior oral health tips to keep your loved one’s teeth and gums healthy to prevent dysphagia, dysarthria, and dysphonia.
Why senior oral health is pivotal to healthy aging
As we grow older, maintaining optimal oral health becomes more critical than ever. The state of our mouth can often serve as a mirror reflecting our overall well-being.
Senior oral health isn’t just about preserving a beautiful smile but protecting the body from becoming susceptible to various ailments caused by poor oral health.
Oral health in seniors is vital for the following reasons:
- Oral-systemic connection: Seniors with gum disease are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease, according to a study.
- Respiratory issues: Poor oral hygiene can lead to respiratory infections, which can be especially dangerous for seniors.
- Diabetes complications: Poor oral health can worsen diabetes complications, making management more challenging.
Ignoring oral health can have further repercussions in seniors such as:
- Speech and swallowing problems: A lack of oral care can result in dysphagia and dysarthria, which causes problems speaking or swallowing effectively.
- Gum disease and tooth loss: Oral health neglect can lead to painful gum diseases and eventual tooth loss, which can diminish the quality of life.
Tips and strategies for maintaining optimal oral health
Keeping a healthy mouth is critical as we age. Remember, it’s not just about having a nice smile, but also about preventing serious health issues caused by oral neglect.
The following outlines clear, actionable steps, recommended by experts, you can take to prevent and address oral health challenges that seniors often face.
Preventive measures for senior oral health
- Regular dental check-ups: Schedule regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and check-ups to catch any issues early on.
- Daily brushing and flossing: Encourage a routine of brushing twice a day and flossing daily to prevent plaque buildup and gum diseases.
- Healthy diet: Promote a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to fortify teeth and gums.
- Hydration: Ensure your loved one stays hydrated, which is essential for optimal saliva production, a natural defense against bacteria.
- Quitting tobacco: Assist them in quitting tobacco, which is known to exacerbate oral health issues.
Responsive Steps to take to improve senior oral health
- Speech therapy: If your loved one is facing speech difficulties, consider engaging a senior speech therapist to work on strategies to improve communication.
- Swallowing exercises: In case of swallowing issues, consult with a healthcare provider for suitable exercises to strengthen the muscles involved in swallowing.
- Specialist consultations: Don’t hesitate to consult specialists for conditions like dysphagia, dysarthria, and dysphonia for expert intervention.
- Community support: Explore community settings like The Kensington White Plains, which offer resources and support to aid in maintaining oral health.
Identifying and addressing specific senior oral health issues
Let’s say that during a recent Sunday dinner with your family, you noticed something slightly amiss with your mother—it seemed like she was having trouble articulating her words, which is considered unusual for her behavior.
You may have also noticed her struggling subtly with swallowing her food, a task that previously seemed effortless.
These observations highlight the importance of being alert to prevent potential oral health issues affecting our loved ones.
Let’s look at the signs of conditions such as dysphagia, dysarthria, and dysphonia. We’ll provide expert advice on how to manage and address these issues effectively.
Being vigilant about observing symptoms is the first step in protecting your loved one’s oral health.
- Dysphagia: Difficulties in swallowing, frequent choking, a sensation of food stuck in the throat, and unexplained weight loss.
- Dysarthria: Slurred or slow speech, difficulty articulating words, changes in voice pitch or volume.
- Dysphonia: Vocal hoarseness, strain in the voice, breathy or weak voice, or abrupt breaks in voice.
Expert advice on management and treatment for dysphagia, dysarthria, and dysphonia
Upon noticing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to take immediate action. The following are strategies recommended by the experts during the event:
- Consultation: Seek advice from healthcare professionals who specialize in speech and language pathology.
- Personalized therapy: Depending on the diagnosis, therapies like speech therapy might be recommended to address specific issues.
- Regular check-ups: Regular appointments with healthcare professionals to monitor the progress and adjust the treatment plan if necessary.
- Home strategies: Learn and implement home strategies like modifications in food texture and consistency to assist individuals with dysphagia.
The Kensington White Plains: your partner in navigating senior health
Navigating senior oral health doesn’t have to be a journey taken alone. At The Kensington White Plains, we specialize in supporting seniors and their families with top-tier speech and swallowing therapies.
- Tailored Speech Therapy: Our specialized rehabilitation services are led by seasoned professionals who are adept in the SPEAK OUT!® and LOUD Crowd® programs, particularly designed to assist those with Parkinson’s in retaining their communication abilities.
- Holistic Support: We encourage residents to participate in enriching activities in our Haven and Connections memory care neighborhoods, fostering a vibrant and community-centered living experience. Discover more in our blog and Kensington Konnect resources.
Ready to explore more? Contact our team to learn how we can be a pillar of support in your journey to optimal senior oral health.