Senior Dental Problems and Taking Care of Elderly

There's an old saying about the eyes being windows to the soul. But the latest medical and dental research shows that the mouth truly is a window into one's overall health. Looking out for a loved one's health means not only keeping an eye on their nutritional intake and physical capabilities, but also on their teeth and gums. Senior dental problems can be common, from dry mouth to periodontal disease, and since oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, these issues need to be taken seriously. Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as heart or digestive health.

Researchers have found that many diseases in the rest of the body have oral symptoms. With careful examination of the teeth, gums, and tongue, dentists have found evidence of heart or liver disease, eating disorders, diet deficiencies, anemia, diabetes, arthritis, HIV, osteoporosis, and even some autoimmune diseases. "We're now realizing how they're interrelated," explains Dr. Cynthia M. Carlsson, assistant professor of geriatrics and gerontology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

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Food and Drug Interactions

Most of us are well aware that foods like artery-clogging French fries and sugar-drenched sodas aren't good for our well-being-but we may not think twice about healthy staples like leafy-green vegetables, fruit juice, and herbal supplements. However, for individuals (and particularly seniors) who are taking certain prescription medications, it's important to know that some surprising dietary elements can pose potential risks.

Approximately half of Americans aged 65 and older take five or more medications, many of whom mix prescription drugs, over the counter medications and herbal supplements, according to a report from the University of Florida College of Nursing. Add to this statistic the fact that adverse drug reactions occur two to three times more frequently in elderly patients, and many doctors, researchers, and pharmacists see cause for concern.

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Hip Fractures in the Elderly

Hip fractures in the elderly are critical ailments, with possible life-endangering complications. Surgeries to fix breaks are common and consistently effective, while healing can take an entire year. And once a senior suffers from a broken hip, his or her health can take a downward spiral as the break can trigger other problems and affect the elderly immune system. 

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