A Care Manager’s Referral: “We Love Working with You!”
Mrs. Delores Taylor * is a 91-year-old woman with a complex medical history that includes atrial fibrillation, orthostasis, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, hypothyroidism, major depressive disorder and generalized pain. She takes multiple medications for these conditions. Mrs. Taylor is able to live at home with assistance from her daughter and round-the-clock home health aides. Her care is overseen and coordinated by her private Care Manager, Betsy Lichtenstein. Betsy describes the role of a care manager as “like another daughter.” She is dedicated to keeping her clients safe at home, living with dignity and comfort, and dealing with the occasional crisis.
Mrs. Taylor had been experiencing deterioration of her overall dental health, a result of medication-induced xerostomia (chronic dry mouth that often causes rapid tooth decay). Her tooth decay had progressed to the point that her bridge was lifting off its anchoring teeth like a trapdoor and was in danger of breaking off (a potential airway obstruction). She also began to have discomfort in her lower left molar, and had resorted to eating only soft foods. Betsy knew a referral was imperative and recalled meeting the House Call Dentists team at a National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) chapter meeting. She made the call.
For Mrs. Taylor’s initial consultation, Dr. Kelly Yu visited her residence in Manhattan with portable dental equipment. After performing an oral health examination and taking digital x-rays with immediate imaging, Dr. Yu recommended a treatment plan with the patient’s own priorities regarding discomfort, function and aesthetics in mind. During a second house call visit, Dr. David Blende completed Mrs. Taylor’s treatment while she sat comfortably in her reclining chair, taking breaks as she needed. A third house call was made by another team dentist to seat her crowns. Mrs. Taylor is now on a 3 month recall program and will receive maintenance care in her home.
When asked to describe her experience, Betsy said, “House Call Dentists offered the only viable option for a senior who has both physical and emotional barriers to leaving the house. As a rule, the extensive dental work that was done for my client is offered exclusively to the active and/or mobile population who go to dentists’ offices. Dr. Blende and his team were so caring and gentle. They took the time to understand Mrs. Taylor’s personality and elicited her cooperation by making her feel safe and able to comfortably tolerate all the work. They even trained the home health aides regarding aftercare and maintenance. It is a rarity to have access to this expertise in the home environment and if not for House Call Dentists, this option would have been non-existent.”
*Patient’s name has been changed at her family’s request.