Dry mouth or cotton mouth is a chronic condition where elderly people struggle to generate enough saliva to help with eating and speaking. Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, it can lead to some serious oral health issues. Family caregivers should not discount it when their elderly loved one complains about dry mouth, and they should get medical attention as soon as they can.
Most of the time, dry mouth is linked as a side effect to common medications that many seniors take. In some instances, it is a sign of a more serious health problem, like diabetes. A physician can diagnose the source of the dry mouth and then help with establishing a treatment plan. Regardless of what is causing the dry mouth in an aging loved one, there are several things that can be done to alleviate the symptoms and make activities like eating and speaking more comfortable and effective.
Here are 5 ways to reduce dry mouth symptoms in elderly loved ones:
Because the body cannot generate enough saliva on its own, elderly loved ones can simulate saliva by sipping water throughout the day. Saliva cleans foot particles from around teeth and gums, moistens the tongue and throat for speaking and eating, and helps break down food for digestion. Frequent sips of water can do a lot of the same things that saliva does.
There are lots of ways to trigger the salivary glands to generate much-needed saliva. The best way is for them to suck on sugar-free candy, mints or lozenges. Other ideas include chewing sugar-free gum, drinking green or ginger tea, and bitter foods like grapefruit, kale, and dark chocolate.
To combat dry mouth, some companies have created oral moisturizers in gel and spray form. Seniors can apply the moisturizers to their mouths as recommended and it will stimulate saliva production and provide added lubrication.
There are some things that actually exacerbate the symptoms of dry mouth, so if seniors can avoid them, they may feel more comfortable. These include taking antihistamines, smoking, caffeinated beverages and eating spicy food. Family members and home care aides should be informed about what food and activities have been restricted.
A humidifier can help seniors with dry mouth because it puts out fine particles of water into the air, making it easier to deal with dry mouth. It’s especially important to run a humidifier when the elderly loved one is sleeping, because the mouth naturally dries out at night anyhow due to reduced activity.
Family caregivers and home care assistants can make an elderly person’s dry mouth feel better than every by being proactive and anticipating the times that are the most difficult. However, any treatments should always be done under the supervision of a doctor. Regular doctor and dentist visits are very important when dealing with dry mouth to ensure an elderly loved one is not suffering health issues from the condition.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring in-home senior care in Clovis CA, please contact the caring staff at Valley HomeCare.