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.