Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition among seniors and can lead to loose dentures, mouth sores and even difficulty swallowing. Patrick Lloyd, dean of Ohio State University's College of Dentistry, told AgingCare.com that seniors are susceptible to dry mouth because many of them take medications. As a caregiver, pay attention to the signs of xerostomia in your loved one. Here are five ways seniors can deal with dry mouth:
1. Consider the medications your loved one takes
Your senior family member likely takes at least one or two medications a day. Unfortunately, many medicines out there can lead to dry mouth, including decongestants, antihistamines and drugs that treat depression according to Mayo Clinic. Ask your loved one's doctor if he or she could possibly switch to a different medication.
2. Make sure your family member drinks water
One of the simplest ways to relieve dry mouth is to drink plenty of fluids. Water promotes saliva flow and keeps the mouth lubricated. Encourage your family member to drink at least eight glasses of water a day. Since the taste of water can get boring after a while, tell your loved one to flavor it with a lemon or lime.
"Many medicines out there can lead to dry mouth."
3. Say no to smoking
Besides increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer, smoking can lead to dry mouth. The chemicals in nicotine can suck all the moisture out of a person's mouth. If your senior family member smokes, help him or her quit the habit.
4. Try saliva substitutes
If your loved one is having a difficult time controlling dry mouth, suggest saliva substitutes. According to Medscape, saliva substitutes are made with neutral pH and have electrolytes that compare to normal saliva. These substitutes come in gels, sprays and lozenges.
5. Get a humidifier
A humidifier adds moisture to the air, so put one in your family member's room at the retirement community. If your loved one uses a humidifier when he or she sleeps at night, it should help with dry mouth.
Following these useful tips can help relieve your senior loved one's dry mouth. However, if your family member still can't find relief, take him or her to see a doctor.