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ADA hosting Elder Care Symposium to explore older population’s expanding need for care

June 03, 2019

By David Burger

Brad Peck, Amanda Dumont, Denise O’Connell, Grace Yasewicz, Dr. Rachel King, Tenzin Tamula, Dr. Brennan, Kelly Burden, Stephen Higgins and Mohammed ElSahly, Ph.D.
Come together: A group co-led by Dr. Leonard Brennan poses during a MOTIVATE program at a Maine’s Veteran Homes facility in South Paris, Maine, on March 21, with students from the University of New England Dental School in attendance. In the front row from left, Brad Peck and Amanda Dumont from Maine’s Veteran Homes and Denise O’Connell from the Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine. In the back row, from left, student Grace Yasewicz; Dr. Rachel King; student Tenzin Tamula; Dr. Brennan; Kelly Burden from Maine’s Veteran Homes; student Stephen Higgins; and Mohammed ElSahly, Ph.D.

The ADA Practice Institute is holding its first Elder Care Symposium on June 28 to help dental professionals understand the importance of serving older patients and the growing population of patients who need care.

The ADA symposium is designed to explain how oral health issues change with age and how vital the relationship is between oral health and systemic health of this vulnerable population, said Dr. Michael Medovic, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice’s National Elder Care Advisory Committee. There will also be a presentation on how silver diamine fluoride works and its applications when treating senior populations.

The symposium is scheduled from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and six continuing education credit hours are offered.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Marsha Pyle, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry.

Other scheduled speakers include Dr. Leonard Brennan, co-director of the dental geriatric fellowship program at Harvard University; Dr. Gretchen Gibson, assistant director of advanced education in general dentistry at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks; Dr. Greg Folse, clinical assistant professor at the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry; Paul Mulhausen, M.D., chief medical officer at Telligen; Dr. Janet Yellowitz, director of geriatric dental programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery; Dr. Michael Helgeson, CEO of AppleTree Dental; and Dr. Mark Wolff, dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.

The speakers have been leaders in exploring ways to expand and improve dental care for elders. Dr. Brennan, for instance, has been a key leader and stakeholder in  the Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine, a program of Massachusetts General Hospital, in collaboration with Maine Veterans’ Homes.

On March 21, the alliance hosted an interprofessional oral health education workshop in rural Maine. These live workshops are a component of Lunder-Dineen’s interprofessional education program, MOTIVATE, which stands for Maine’s Oral Team Based Initiative: Vital Access to Education.

Maine Veterans’ Homes has been at the forefront of addressing oral health of older adults in Maine, said Dr. Brennan. They were selected to partner with Lunder-Dineen on a one-of-a-kind interprofessional oral health program due to their commitment to the oral health of their residents and to the professional development of their staff.

Over 60 members of the nursing home’s interprofessional team attended the workshop with its largest audience to date — nurses, social workers, therapists, administrators, housekeepers, business personnel, maintenance and dietary professionals, along with pharmacy staff. Guests for the workshop included members of the University of New England College of Dental Medicine, two faculty members and three students.

Students and faculty are important stakeholders in the MOTIVATE program and thus were on hand at the workshop to observe and learn more about the program, meet the administrators and begin conversations of possible collaborative opportunities to establish community partnerships,  Dr. Brennan said.

“As the older dental geriatricians become few in number, seeing this interest from our younger colleagues is exciting and inspirational. We hope this program inspires and motivates future caregivers,” he said.

Collaborations such as these between academia and practice are critical for addressing oral health disparities for older adults whether in nursing home or community dwellings, Dr. Brennan said.

To register for the symposium, visit Success.ADA.org/en/education/elder-care-symposium.