Challenges of macro caregiving: Dental care, eye care, etc.

Posted by ngyose @ngyose, Nov 6, 2019

Macro caregiving, is about dental care for those with YOD and unable to carry out all daily living activities. The dental aids that are available are not well publicized and is hardly available. There is no emphasis for oral hygiene, how to go about doing so for one that refuses to open mouth and to keep it open. Those dental inserts used dentists to keep the mouth open is not available at all. Those dental sponges is certainly not recommended for oral hygiene. Next macro caregiving issue is how can we as caregivers ascertain that there is no vision impairment for our love ones who will not be able to read the chart, unable to understand what is going on to keep eyes open for proper diagnosis ( glaucoma, cataracts, dry eyes, retinal disorders, etc ) Is there an equipment that can do an analysis for such. They refuse to cooperate by keeping their eyes open for diagnosis. Just putting oral eye drops is also challenging macro care giving task. Please remember that this is for a person who has no ability to do anything. Yes I still want to treat her well at this macro level of care giving. I have heard of caregivers who do not want to do it for years….all the teeth just turned black and fall out. I cannot imagine the pain that ensues.

Hello @ngyose You raise some very good caregiving questions.

I can only relate what I did for my wife. For dental care I began using a small brush that fit on the tip of my finger. Made for pets, but got the job done.

With eyesight, it may sound harsh, but we just kept using her most recent pair of glasses.

Wish I had more insights.

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Hi @ngyose, since you and your wife are dealing with early or young onset dementia (YOD), I also included this important topic in the Caregivers: Dementia group (https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers-dementia/). You may wish to follow the group and join the discussions there.

@IndianaScott, did you have any issues of being bitten when using the fingertip tooth brush?

Ngyose, as you point out, dental hygiene is important for overall health. I found some of the tips in this article to be potentially practical
– Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org/dental-care-dementia
For example, breaking down instructions into steps and offering pieces of apple for those times when brushing wasn't successful. I was a bit surprised to read that flossing is more important than brushing. Did you realize that? Any of the tips resonate with you?

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@colleenyoung

Hi @ngyose, since you and your wife are dealing with early or young onset dementia (YOD), I also included this important topic in the Caregivers: Dementia group (https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers-dementia/). You may wish to follow the group and join the discussions there.

@IndianaScott, did you have any issues of being bitten when using the fingertip tooth brush?

Ngyose, as you point out, dental hygiene is important for overall health. I found some of the tips in this article to be potentially practical
– Family Caregiver Alliance https://www.caregiver.org/dental-care-dementia
For example, breaking down instructions into steps and offering pieces of apple for those times when brushing wasn't successful. I was a bit surprised to read that flossing is more important than brushing. Did you realize that? Any of the tips resonate with you?

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Hi @ngyose and @colleenyoung In our case it was a classic example of ‘good enough’ caregiving. My finger never got bitten, but then again not every tooth got cleaned every time. Flossing was an impossibility and luckily my wife only had one minor dental issue in her 14 years of her war.

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LO has a dental appt. next month and has declined a lot since the last visit. Hoping that his dentist has some suggestions for dental care. I can say that my husband will rinse his mouth out well several times in a row, and that gets out a lot of food. Brushing is limited and flossing impossible.

Last year I took him for an eye exam and he did OK. This year he couldn't name the letters or understand any of the other tests. The optometrist had seen him before and he was able to determine his visual acuity by using one of his pieces of equipment. The challenge with dementia is that the visual perception is grossly affected and there isn't a means of correcting that. It's the deterioration of the brain.

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