Study Reveals Complexity of Treating Frail Older Adults

frailThe following study delves into the topic of end of life care, and how dental treatment and pain management can be addressed. Read on to learn more. Thanks for visiting us at Mt. Juliet and Cookeville Endodontics

While ensuring that pediatric patients receive excellent oral healthcare remains a priority, few studies focus on the oral healthcare needs of terminally ill patients. Are these patients receiving the care they need? Are dentists getting the communication and education they need to best care for these patients? What should be the focus of treatment in terms of pain management and quality of life?

In a recent study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, Xi Chen, DDS, PhD, and colleagues looked at what treatments were being provided to long-term care residents during the last year of their lives (November 2013, Vol. 144:11, pp. 1234-1242). Their study found that while comprehensive dental treatment, including multiple restorations and tooth extractions, were commonly provided to frail older patients at the terminal stage of life, several concerns regarding the quality of care for these frail end-of-life patients were raised.

The authors retrospectively followed 197 long-term care residents (60 years or older) who were in their last year of life. The authors divided the patients into three groups: those who received no care, those who received limited care, and those who received what was termed usual care, depending on the treatment the patients received.

Their study revealed that more than half of these patients (50.8%) received no care before death. Among the 49% who did receive some treatment, almost 63% received their usual care, and almost 61% of these patients completed their treatment in the last three months of life. The authors found that neither survival nor dental insurance was associated with the level of care (usual or limited) the patient received.

Continue reading HERE.