Providing some needed magic

providing some needed magic


Serving the elderly and chronically ill

Looking for a miracle

Seniors with depression

Providing some needed magic

Lou Brown had seen the same dentist for 25 years. Now that he had Alzheimer’s, however, he no longer recognized the man in the white coat.

Now suddenly when the dentist tried to examine him, Brown refused to open his mouth, jerking his head back and forth in terror. The dentist referred his patient to Kevin Hendler at Emory Healthcare’s Ina T. Allen Geriatric Dental Center located at Wesley Woods.

That happens a lot, says Hendler. He accepts any patient over 55, but he has a reputation as a magician when it comes to patients like Brown. It’s not really magic but great empathy and patience.

Hendler says he does have a few tricks. He always touches patients on the arm or shoulder, so they aren’t startled by sudden movements. He relies a lot on distraction, talking nonstop, even singing if that helps. If patients have Parkinson’s or some other movement disorder, he tries to work with the rhythm of their movements. And when it’s needed, he uses mild drugs to alleviate their anxiety. He usually can get done what needs doing.

In Brown’s case, a deep sore was hidden in the folds of his lip, caused by ill-fitting dentures. Once he was treated, the change in Brown was like magic, said the family. They had assumed his newly uncooperative behavior was part of his evolving dementia, but with his pain relieved, their father was once again calm and pleasant.

Struggling financially and lacking private insurance, the Brown family couldn’t pay for Hendler’s services. Medicare does not cover dental care and Medicaid in Georgia covers exams, x-rays, and extractions but not denture-related services or other basic dental care. But the care Hendler provided was well worth the effort, in his view, possibly saving the state considerable dollars by averting a more serious infection.

Table of Contents

emory ce cover