The primary portal to the body is the mouth. Quite simply, you can’t have a healthy body without a healthy mouth. For example, acquired pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death in the elderly and is often a result of poor dental care.
As we age, our dental health becomes even more important and yet many older adults suffer terrible abuse and neglect related to oral hygiene. Poor or neglected oral health causes pain, suffering and illness for older people. This form of elder abuse, intentional or otherwise, is a very serious issue.
Recently, a new program called the Dental Elder Abuse Response (D.E.A.R) project was developed in Toronto. The project, which received a Federal government grant through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, is the first in Canada to create materials and training to help people understand and take action with respect to this issue. Working with dentists, hygienists, seniors, caregivers and community organizations, the D.E.A.R. project will create senior peer-trained workshops, online videos, helpful brochures and checklists to provide practical, hands-on material to recognize and prevent dental elder abuse and neglect in the greater Toronto area.
The program was co-founded by Dr. Natalie Archer and Laura Tamblyn-Watts and is a joint pilot project of Archer Dental (Toronto), the Canadian Centre for Elder Law and the National Initiative for Care of the Elderly.