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Mom Is Grinding Her Teeth After Her Stroke


"My mother had a stroke in June of 2018. She cannot walk or talk well, and she has difficulty controlling her bowel movements. Now she has started chewing her teeth. What can I do?" - READER



You have quite a bit on your hands right now and I am assuming from your note that your mother is living with you. If that is true, you are in a round-the-clock caregiving situation that is quite demanding.

I will start by addressing Mom's teeth grinding. This is called bruxism. It is somewhat common after a stroke, and it is also not that easy to treat. To address this issue, take her to her doctor and a dentist. Before you go to these visits, I recommend that you chart her sleeping, eating, and activity patterns for a few days. Come to the appointments with a record of when the grinding occurs, what is going on when she does it, what she eats, and her sleep patterns. This information will help the professionals offer possible solutions.

I am going to assume that she has had the maximum amount of therapy she can to reach her current level of functioning, as it is close to a year since her stroke. If that is the case, you will need to look at care for the long term. You have two choices: care at home or care in a facility.

Care at Home

Care in the home can be as little as a visit once per week for a bath or as involved as hiring round-the-clock caregivers. Generally, individuals pay for this care until they have depleted their assets. After this happens, many patients turn to Medicaid for coverage. Home care is available from providers, agencies and even individuals.

Care in a Facility

Facility care generally includes food, lodging, and some level of personal and nursing care. Individuals pay from their assets until they are depleted, afterward utilizing Medicaid for coverage.

What You Should Do

I would recommend that you first tap family members for assistance if you have them. If not, try some support from home care. It is not a long-term commitment, and you will find out very quickly if some assistance makes your situation more tolerable. Talk with family first, and then begin the search for professional care. It is very difficult to care for someone whose needs are as significant as your mother's, and providing all of the care, yourself, will wear you down. Regular breaks are necessary.

I wish you success on your journey. 


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