According to recent studies, the population of U.S. adults 65 and older will nearly double in the next 25 years. That means that now is a good time for dental clinics to prepare themselves for a rise in the number of geriatric patients. If you would like to learn more about making sure that you are ready well in advance, read on. This article will present two ways to make your dental practice more accommodating for geriatric patients.
Emphasize—and reemphasize—the importance of regular checkups.
Geriatric patients have a number of strikes against them where dental health is concerned. For one thing, the natural reduction in pain perception makes them less likely to become aware of dental issues. For another, there is a psychological tendency among aging patients to accept such oral issues as tooth loss and decay as inevitable parts of the aging process. This translates to a marked apathy when it comes to getting regular checkups.
For these reasons, it is vital that you stress the importance of continuing to receive regular dental care when dealing with geriatric patients. This is especially true when dealing with denture wearers, who often hold the erroneous belief that dentures represent a "cure" for all dental problems. It has been found that a mere 19 percent of geriatric patients with dentures heed their dentist's advice about regular checkups. For this reason, you must be especially vigilant about emphasizing—and reemphasizing—the importance of preventative care.
Make appropriate accessibility changes to office furnishings.
Geriatric patients have a much different set of needs and abilities where furniture is concerned. Be sure that your office offers appropriately supportive chairs. These should be high enough that patients can easily lower themselves into them, while also being shallow enough to get up from without difficulty. Likewise, be aware of the spacing of such furnishings. There should be appropriate room to allow easy passage for those using walkers or wheelchairs.
The same set of guidelines should pertain to the examination chairs. It is important that these chairs have a range of motion able to permit the transfer of wheelchair patients. In other words, the exam chair must be capable of being lowered to the same height as the seat of the wheelchair.
Also pay attention to such things as the font size of signage and the lighting levels in your office. Especially where light is concerned, geriatric populations have different needs and generally require a higher overall light level. Also consider stocking your waiting room with large-print magazines and other reading material. Even relatively small things like this will help to contribute to a spirit of inclusiveness and trust at your dental practice.
For more information, contact professionals like Milner DentistryShare