As a family caregiver for an elderly adult who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, you are likely thinking about their future treatments and how those treatments will affect them.
You likely anticipate side effects to these treatments, but what you might not have anticipated is how these effects could impact your parent’s dental health. Dental health consequences are common among those living with cancer and going through treatments, which makes it critical for you to support your parent in continuing to care for their mouth while they are fighting cancer.
Some ways your parent can protect their dental health during cancer treatment include:
- Talk to your parent’s dentist as soon as possible after their cancer diagnosis to create a plan for dental health during the treatment
- Keep the dentist updated about any medications your parent is taking during their treatments. It is very important for the dentist to know if your senior is taking anti-clotting medications as this can lead to serious bleeding problems
- Point out any sore or irritated spots to the dentist. Mouth sores can develop quickly and become infected, which may delay cancer treatments. The dentist can help your parent cope with these sores and manage their care until they heal
- Ensure your parent brushes their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. They may need to brush more gently or use a soft brush to prevent injury to more sensitive mouth tissues during this treatment
- Ensure your parent continues to floss to remove contaminants from between the teeth, reducing the risk for decay and infection
- Encourage your parent to avoid foods that may be irritating to their mouth, including spicy, hard, crunchy, or highly acidic foods, or those with alcohol
- Remind your parent to rinse their mouth after eating or drinking. This helps to remove food debris and beverage residue and provides moisture to dry tissues
Helping your parent manage their dental health needs is just one way elderly care can help your parent throughout their later years.
Customized services, including personal care support, are designed to address you loved one’s limitations and challenges in ways that are respectful, dignified, and aimed toward helping your parent live a lifestyle they desire and deserve. When it comes to helping your parent protect their dental health, this care provider can include this type of care into your parents routine so it is predictable, model good behavior, and break down the task into small, easy steps your parent can manage individually before moving on to the next.