10,000 Boomers a day have been turning 65 years old since the year 2011. By the year 2030 the entire generation estimated at 73 million, will be at least 65 years old. This means the number of persons aged 65 and older is growing more rapidly than the rest of the population of the United States.
According to audiology.org, hearing impairment is the third most commonly reported chronic problem affecting the aging population. More than 7 million persons suffer from some degree of hearing impairment.
Hearing loss in aging persons has a significant impact on overall wellness. It impairs the exchange of information, causes loneliness, isolation, dependence, frustration, and communication disorders.
Poor oral health in elders is another area of concern that negatively impacts overall wellness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 96% of all adults aged 65 and older have had a cavity. 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay. 68% of adults over 65 have gum disease.
Tooth loss, oral cancer, and chronic diseases of the mouth are additional concerns.
Don’t forget the Feet!
According to the Ankle & Foot Care Center in Jupiter Florida, the most favorable thing seniors can do for their feet is to wear shoes that fit correctly. Far too often, proper foot care is something many older adults forget to consider.
Unfortunately, not paying attention to changes in the condition of ones feet can lead to a host of additional unwanted concerns or conditions:
- Neuropathy – can reduce feeling in the feet and hide many life-threatening medical conditions
- Gouging toenails
- Pressure sores
- Loss of circulation
- Edema and swelling
Those with Dementia Need You
If you are a professional care provider or a valued family member taking care of a loved one with Dementia, it’s not uncommon for you to be so laser-focused on your day-to-day Dementia care duties that paying attention to other areas of personal care can be forgotten. However, you are encouraged to be vigilant in maintaining proper health of the ears, mouth, and feet of those in your care!
Keep in mind, those with Dementia may not be able to self-identify these other care issues. Yet, these problems may be causing discomfort and pain which can impact their overall mood and wellness.
Sometimes, when a person with Dementia is uncomfortable or in pain and not able to speak out about the issue they may resort to ‘acting out.’ This is certainly an alternative ‘communication’ method for someone with Dementia.
Everything is Impacted When Issues are Undiagnosed
For someone with Dementia having unidentified tooth, mouth, or tongue pain, caregivers may observe a whole array of unexplained issues:
- Trouble consuming or merely refusing food or beverages
- Irregular bouts of crying
- Wincing or resistance
- Angry outbursts
When someone with Dementia who is already struggling cognitively has the added care concern of untreated hearing loss; it’s a recipe for additional adversity. Caregivers may notice:
- Refusal to participate in activities they previously enjoyed
- Lack of engagement or response to situations or conversations
- Increased sleepiness
- Increased depression
For those with unrecognized foot pain in addition to their Dementia, caregivers may see:
- Unsteady gait/movement
- Refusal to wear shoes, socks, or other footwear
- Resistance to standing up or getting out of bed
- Wincing, crying, angry outbursts
By paying attention to all the personal cares of those in your care…..You avoid unwelcome secondary health issues.
Please understand, that those in your care will greatly benefit from your heightened level of attention to these additional details. Being pro-active is always encouraged over being re-active to an issue that’s already causing negative effects.
By simply ensuring someone with Dementia has good oral hygiene, supportive hearing devices, and proper footwear and foot care…. you have a Win-Win situation for both the caregiver and the care receiver!