5 Kinds of Medical Care Someone With Severe Dementia May Still Need

You already know that your loved one's doctor can't really cure or treat severe dementia. And routine screenings for breast, cervical, colon, and prostate cancer are no longer recommended for adults over age 75 (it's now advised to consult with one's physician on an individual basis). But that's not to say an older loved one with dementia needs no medical care at all. These often-overlooked kinds of medical care can add greatly to quality of life:

1. Routine dental cleanings and care

Reason: Untended infections can cause pain and delirium, and even death if the brain is affected. Your loved one may not be able to articulate the presence of a dental problem, which means the infection could run rampant before it's detected.

2. Eye care

Reason: Vision problems are a common cause of increased agitation and confusion, as well as falls that lead to broken bones. If your loved one wears glasses, be sure they're kept clean and in good repair. An eye doctor may also be able to screen for progressive eye conditions, depending on your loved one's condition.

3. Flu shots

Reason: Frail, older adults tend to have compromised immunity. Flu is a preventable disease, and uncomfortable when it's experienced.

4. Podiatry care

Reason: Older feet can develop infections in the toenail beds. Unclipped long nails can be a falling hazard. And diabetics need routine inspections for cuts and scrapes that can lead to infection; left untreated, the person may be at risk for amputation.

5. Visual inspection for bedsores

Reason: People who spend the majority of time in wheelchairs, chairs, or bed are at high risk for pressure sores. If you can't do this inspection yourself, it's wise to have a professional do so.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio