Ready for Senior Moments?

Aug. 1, 2006
As the number of Americans turning 65 each day jumps from 6,000 daily to 10,000 per day in 2011, are hygienists ready to deal with these elderly patients?

As the number of Americans turning 65 each day jumps from 6,000 daily to 10,000 per day in 2011, are hygienists ready to deal with these elderly patients? Five years is not long, and Anastasia Turchetta, RDH, encourages progressive, pro-active hygienists to be prepared for the age-related ailments that will present themselves during the dental hygiene appointment of 2011. These patients will be challenged by their medications, nutrition, and behavior. They will need to learn how to maintain a healthy oral environment. Hygienists and dental team members must be ready to deal with whatever elderly patients present to the practice. Numerous obstacles often challenge the elderly patients who already visit dental offices. Can you and your practice handle them?

Anastasia’s program is titled, “Senior Moments.” It’s not just a play on words, but encompasses the vast array of information seniors deal with daily. Learning objectives of the program include:

• recognizing the effects of age-related ailments
• combining medication education and product awareness
• presenting solutions to patients and/or family members
• creative scheduling
• retaining one’s memory via three key secrets

Hygienists and dental team members must arm themselves not only with clinical techniques to conquer the effects of aging, but should understand the mental and physical battles that seniors endure daily.

A recent news report highlighted the ever-growing senior population and the categories they fall into. It was previously thought that seniors were 65 and older, and that was that. Now researchers and sociologists have defined levels of elderly: ages 65-74, 74-83, 84-90, and 90 plus. Each category has its own lifestyle and challenges.

Dental professionals need to be aware of the demands that each level has on the elderly, embracing our roles as total health-care professionals. Dental teams are encouraged to understand that an elder incident - whether a stroke, diabetic reaction, or Alzheimer’s - can occur at anytime in a dental practice.

Anastasia began presenting her Senior Moment program after personal experiences with her patients and family members. One of her patients exhibited unusual forgetfulness, which resulted in irreversible memory loss. Shortly thereafter, Anastasia’s mother showed signs of reversible memory loss due to the side effects of medications, and her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Her experiences reinforced her belief that dental professionals need to be educated about seniors and their oral - as well as physical - health needs. Anastasia shares her motto during her program: “Take what you learn and make a difference with it!”

Anastasia also presents programs on assisted hygiene and Invisalign orthodontic technology. She provides keynote presentations such as “Sound Tips for Effective Communication” and “Finding Your Normal Pathways to Victorious Living.” Keynote programs allow her to empower her audiences with messages that surpass age, gender, and profession. Her assisted hygiene program is based on her own clinical successes and failures, and she firmly believes that assisted hygiene is the profession’s future for obtaining optimum patient care.

With the exception of her keynote programs, Anastasia incorporates PowerPoint, handouts, and audience participation. She has an energetic style of presenting that encourages a “no sleep” atmosphere.

Anastasia is a dual dental assisting and dental hygiene graduate of Allegany College in Cumberland, Md. During a team seminar about 10 years ago, she met her professional mentor, Linda Miles, who changed her life. Linda, who Anastasia now fondly refers to as her “other mom,” saw something in Anastasia that she knew would be good for the continuing education speaking circuit.

Anastasia is an ADHA member who is concerned about the burnout, attitude and restrictions of dental hygiene. She enjoys promoting the dental hygienist’s role as health care professional who delivers quality services for a quality life.

Her personal goals are enjoying each day by living, loving and laughing, cherishing family and friends, pets, and hobbies. She also enjoys golf and football (go Penn State and Pittsburgh Steelers!)

Searching for sponsorship - which many RDH continuing educators are requested to acquire - can present an unwelcome challenge. This has not deterred Anastasia’s passion to enlighten audiences with knowledge and laughter, therefore transforming both patients’ and hygienists’ lives.

For information on Anastasia and her programs, contact her [email protected] or visit