Sunday, May 23, 2010
dental care Multiple Sclerosis
While a day in the life of caregiving rarely has epic moments you can still find yourself pumping your fist into the air over moments atop the Mundane Mountains of life.
Receiving a glowing report card call from the visiting dentist at Patti’s care facility Saturday morning was just such one of those moments. With his mention of “no cavities” I could not help remembering the good ol’ Crest advertising slogan.
Living with Multiple Sclerosis it’s not easy to keep up with a daily dental hygiene routine. Above and beyond fatigue and weakness, progression of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms including wheelchair necessity, physical dexterity, spasticity, eye hand coordination, numbness, tingling, and cognitive / memory impairment all conspire against efforts to brush and floss teeth.
Plus some medications actually work against gum health.
Additionally, there are no such things as ‘routine dental visits’. Finding an accessible office much less an accessible dental chair is only the tip of an iceberg including socioeconomic factors (lack of dental insurance, inability to pay out of pocket), and assisted transportation to get there and back.
As Patti’s inability to participate in her own activities of daily living have diminished, dental care challenges have increased. Trying to help someone to effectively brush their own teeth, and/or brush their teeth for them, is more demanding than can be imagined.
Do not assume modern technology is an answer. If someone is already challenged physically to hold anything, legally blind, and way too easily confused just go ahead and hand them a buzzing vibrating toothbrush and see what happens. … You may as well have handed them a snake.
It takes time, commitment, patience, and respect to make the experience work. Having someone help you or brush your teeth for you a couple times a day is frankly damn intrusive. I find if I make a pinch of entertainment part of the caring mix it works so much better. After all a smile is far easier to brush no matter who is doing the brushing.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
web site: http://caregivinglyyours.com/
musings: patrick ponders
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