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Oral health of seniors receiving homecare services in New York City

Kavita P. Ahluwalia, DDS, MPH1, Mildred Ramirez, MA, PhD2, Dionne T. Otey, MPH1, and Tanya Darlington, DDS1. (1) School of Dental and Oral Surgery, Columbia University, Division of Community Health, 630 West 168 St, New York, NY 10032, 212-304-7184, kpa8@columbia.edu, (2) Research Division, Hebrew Home for the Aged, 5901 Palisade Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471

Background: Oral diseases, which are among the most common chronic conditions affecting the elderly, have profound implications for general health and quality of life -- in addition to pain, difficulty chewing and talking, and the devastating sequelae of oral cancer, oral diseases are associated with diabetes, heart disease and CVD. Although the potential impact of oral diseases can be improved by daily care and regular dental visits, the oral health of seniors is often neglected; this is especially pressing in seniors receiving homecare services because they suffer functional limitations and have difficulty accessing the oral care system. Objective: To assess the impact of an intervention (improved training for and systematic provision of oral health services by caregivers) on the oral health status of homebound seniors in NYC. Methods: Pre-post quasi-experimental study with home care clients assigned to experimental and comparison groups. Subjects' oral health status assessed by examination. Caregivers' (nurses and home health aides) oral health related knowledge, opinions and practices assessed by survey methodology. Results: The average age of the subjects (n = 100) was 78 years, and 76% were females. The average time since last dental visit was 5 years, and 45% were completely edentulous. Of those with at least one tooth, 97% had dental caries, and on the average, they had only 50% of their teeth remaining. Conclusions: Preliminary data suggest that the oral health of this population is poor, and that their caregivers are not trained to assess the oral cavity, or provide relevant services.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the session, the participant in this session will be able to

Keywords: Aging, Oral Health Outcomes

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Innovations in Long-term Care

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA