Dementia Healthcare

5 Routine Checkups Someone With Dementia Needs

In the midst of coping with the behavioral and cognitive changes of dementia, it's easy to neglect routine healthcare. Make sure you have routine dental and vision checkups scheduled for your loved one for the coming year. Many unchecked vision and oral health problems can be mistaken for complications of dementia, when basic care can clear them up.

Let the care provider know in advance that the patient has dementia; this allows the staff to allot extra time for the appointment, if necessary. Some providers will schedule joint appointments -- for both you and your loved one.

  • Eye exam: Poor vision or the beginnings of common eye diseases of aging, including glaucoma and macular degeneration, can create confusion and hesitancy that make dementia symptoms seem worse. Many of these eye problems are slow to develop and fairly easy to correct. If your loved one wears glasses, make sure the prescription is up to date.

  • Dental exam: Untreated tooth and gum problems can lead to infections that create pain that your loved one may not be able to articulate. Furthermore, untreated infections can travel the short distance to the brain, causing worsened mental ability or even death. If your loved one wears dentures, their fit needs to be checked annually. (And people with dementia often forget to clean them.) Some dental practices specialize in patients with dementia, so it's worth asking your doctor to refer you to one.

  • Flu shot: They're recommended for all older adults. Consider the relatively new high-dose flu shot designed for adults over 65.

    SEE ALSO: Find Memory Care Near You

  • Other adult immunizations: Vaccines for shingles and the pneumonia are recommended for all adults over 65. Your doctor may also suggest shots (including boosters) for whooping cough, tetanus, and meningitis.

  • Podiatric (foot) care: Untrimmed toenails, open sores related to diabetes, hard calluses, and other common foot problems for older adults can all affect gait and increase your loved one's risk of falling. Because thorough foot care is often beyond the capability of at-home caregivers, periodic checkups are a good idea.


over 2 years ago, said...

Didn't think about cleaning my Mom's dentures.


about 3 years ago, said...

I don't know how to proceed regarding the eye exam for my husband Robert, age 78, middle stage. He doesn't like anything remotely invasive, and I'm afraid the eye drops they use will result in a near-crisis situation. He wants to run if anything startles him. He almost jumped out of the hairdresser's chair when she was washing his hair and some water ran down his neck just a little. As for foot care, he has been examined by a doctor and he is okay, but he can't stand anything to touch his toes, so podiatric care is quite problematic. I feel so bad that someone with a disease like this should be subject to tests that stress him. If it were me, I think I'd just want nature to take its course, which is what Robert said when he was diagnosed. I'm at a loss here, the old between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place dilemma.


over 3 years ago, said...

I am not the primary care giver for my mom, my father is. This article will help me to help him keep mom up to date. Thank you!


over 3 years ago, said...

Having advanced macular degeneration and moderate dementia is extremely difficult to manage. My mother has both of these diseases. She can not identify the food on her plate because of her sight. She is constantly asking "what is next and what can I do to help." I am struggling with keeping her busy or entertained. She can not see the television and can not follow voice books. Are any suggestions or experience with these two conditions?


over 3 years ago, said...

Who is responsible to pay for Podiatric care of a veteran with TBI(non-service related) and also diabetic?


almost 4 years ago, said...

I've been taking my mom for her eye exams. We actually discovered she had a visual stroke during one test of the periphial (sp) vision. Unfortunately she's now at a point that she is unable to follow the directions for the various tests. We still do go however because of her glaucoma. I think she's probably had another visual stroke on the other eye because you can stand right beside her & she can't see you. The doctor agrees but we can't confirm it.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Not to let go of normal health care.


almost 4 years ago, said...

I finally have begun to accept my partner's Picks/frontal lobe demential. I bought 36 hour day, book today. I have so many questions and concerns.


almost 4 years ago, said...

sandyD. Your comments are so similar to the way my husband is acting. He also asks me the same things over and over throughout the day, small things but over and over and over.


almost 4 years ago, said...

I think I am the denial stage= even after 5 years. He is so different from what I imagined a person with dementia would act like. He does forget so much common things like where do we keep the glasses ,cups, plates, where the microwave is never remembers where we are going even if I give him a list so he can check it off as we go along We were at our gandsons wedding in Sept and to that same grandsons 21st birthday last week. Ron thought it was the wedding At the wedding he wanted to know who the bride was even in her wedding dress. When we had a family get together at our daughter in laws Church knew it was our family knew they were almost all related to us some way but didn't remember names, just that they belong to us. I was a Hospice visitor and visited many with dementia but Ron's seems so different probably because I am with him 24-7


about 4 years ago, said...

The impact of normal health checkups prevents worsening the symptoms of dementia. I had never considered it.


over 4 years ago, said...

You need to add a hearing assessment to the list. If someone cannot hear they cannot understand and function well.


over 4 years ago, said...

Thank you for all the tips and info this has been a God send for me. Shirley Barbour


about 5 years ago, said...

No mention of UTI's causing severe confusion Test strips available at Medical Supply - easy to read results - call PCP if results are abnormal - save some urine for culture if needed. Keep sterile containers in house - lab provides free.


about 5 years ago, said...

chatty one...we all learn new tricks from each other. everyone has been such help to me is working through this morass. my mom's bed is on my agenda this week too....I have gotten to where I feel lucky to get them washed every two weeks...I just choose my battles.


about 5 years ago, said...

I asked my mama a few days ago about changing her bed clothes and she got very defensive and said no so the comment about luring her out of the room to do this is a great idea!!! She was always so particular about this and loved bedding from QVC so I will be seeking help from my daughter and sister-in-law with this one...You guys are great advice givers...keep me in your prayers!! And you will all be in mine...God is our only chance of survival during our difficult time.


about 5 years ago, said...

Everything!!! My mom has dentures and I have been keeping a check on this. She has always gone for regular eye exams so that will be monitored as well. As far as the immunizations go, we have found her a wonderful doctor that will see to it that she has all of these as her mother has gone through the same thing and she has told us she will help us all she can.


over 5 years ago, said...

knitwhit...it is always so heart-warming when someone seems to understand the situation and how to deal with dementia patients. It makes life so much easier and it is almost like having a team-mate to deal with a problem. Kudos to your dentist!


over 5 years ago, said...

Took my husband to see the dentist yesterday because of a swelling in his moouth- I had a root canal to be done- good opportun ity to get him in there and there was an abscess in his tooth and dentist was so great--knowing the situation he took the tooth out right then- I stayed out of the room until it was all over and he was very good- dentist couldn't finish my work because of time limitations but the important thing was done- the hardest part was keeping the gauze in and not letting him eat for awhile- but I am exhausted today- but Wow- it got done without a big fuss- I think I anticipate too much and get myself in a tizzy-- thank the good Lord for this web site


over 5 years ago, said...

knitwhit, I know exactly how you feel about having this site. I check it 2 to 3 times a day and have realized I am disappointed if there isn't something new to read. My mom has been in physical therapy in a heated/indoor pool since Feb because she broke her hip at the end of Jan. She had really progressed as far as they could take her because of her dementia but, bless the therapist's heart she let her continue because she could see that I was about at the end of my rope and it was my only outlet (socially) all week. Now that I have a helper 15 to 20 hours a week, I am doing a lot better and the physical therapist took the time to train us in mom's basic exercises so we took her today on our own for the first time. Mom still fusses about not wanting to go, but it is obvious that she has a good time. The pool is open to "members" during the lunch hour and some of them have become accustomed to seeing and hearing us ( I tend to sing quite off key to mom to keep her moving). Several of the ladies have approached me to say that they have been in the same situation which has helped and a few brave ones have even tried to include mom in conversations which tickles her to no end. But even though having the helper and the empathy at the pool helps, this site really makes me feel not so alone. Several people have suggested an Alzheimer's support group but, being an introvert, this is so much easier for me. Thank you and hugs to all on here...you are making a big difference in my life and I hope you get some of the same comfort from sharing that I have.