Page 31 - March 2018 Senior Scene Magazine
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Senior Scene® | March Issue
Hospice Social Workers Address Important End-of-Life Issues
Susan Acocella
VITAS Healthcare General Manager
When someone you love is referred to VITAS Healthcare for care near the end of life, that person becomes the focus of a team of professionals who provide medical, spiritual, emotional and psychosocial support.
March is National Social Workers Month, an event that reminds us to stop and think about social workers’ dedication to some of society’s most vulnerable citizens, including those dealing with death, dying and grief.
VITAS’ hospice social workers identify and meet the varied, often difficult needs that arise for hospice patients, their loved ones and their family caregivers. Social workers get to know patients and families across numerous situations and in multiple locations, whether in the patient’s home, a nursing home, assisted living facility or inpatient hospice bed.
Focused on compassion and dignity near the end of life, social workers ensure that the personal, cultural and religious wishes of terminally ill patients and their families are honored by other members of the interdisciplinary hospice team: doctor, nurse, hospice aide, chaplain, bereavement specialist, volunteer, and more.
During a single visit, a social worker might hold hands and share memories with the patient, comfort a spouse who is grappling emotionally with a loved one’s terminal diagnosis, ask delicate questions that lead to important answers, and contact the funeral home on the family’s behalf about funeral arrangements.
For more information about hospice care or your end-of-life options, call VITAS Healthcare at 321-751-6671 or visit
When we think about teeth, we often think about shape, color, how our smile looks, and how well we’re able to chew. But what about load? What about the load on each of your teeth? And what can we do to reduce tooth overload?
When your mouth is closed, every one of your teeth should ideally touch each other. That means that every upper tooth should touch a lower tooth. Excluding wisdom teeth, we should have twenty-eight teeth, fourteen on the upper, fourteen on the lower. That means each set of teeth takes 1/14th of the load of the bite. But what happens when we lose teeth? For each tooth that is lost, the remaining teeth have to take up that load. If we’re missing three sets of meeting teeth, then that 3/14 load needs to be distributed among the other teeth. If we lose three upper teeth and four lower teeth and none of those teeth opposed each other, we are losing 7/14’s or half of the load-bearing teeth. All those forces have to go somewhere, and they go to the remaining teeth, where they may suffer from overload.
What can happen? The remaining teeth can loosen, wear, chip, or break. Periodontal disease can worsen, teeth will move out of alignment, all because the original teeth are no longer there to absorb the load of your jaw muscles.
What can you do? Let your dentist do a dental load evaluation. He or she can tell you the consequences of tooth loss that may have already occurred, and what you can do to stop the deterioration before it gets so advanced that it will require more time and money to fix it. If you need to lose a tooth, don’t look just at the tooth loss. Look at how it can be replaced. Dental overload is not talked about as much as cavities and perio- dontal disease. But reducing dental overload should be a goal.
Your Dental Load
Dr. Lee Sheldon, DMD
March 2018 | Senior Scene® Magazine | 31

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