Research Article
Factors Affecting Unmet Dental Care Needs of the Elderly Living Alone: A
Ye-Rim Kim, So-Yeong Kim* and Hye-Young Jang
Corresponding Author: So-Yeong Kim, Department of Preventive Medicine, Chosun University Medical School, 309, Pilmun-daero, Dong-gu, Gwangju, 61452, Republic of Korea
Received: July 15, 2021; Revised: July 19, 2021; Accepted: July 22, 2021 Available Online: October 13, 2021
Citation: Kim Y-R, Kim S-Y & Jang H-Y. (2021) Factors Affecting Unmet Dental Care Needs of the Elderly Living Alone: A Mini Review. J Oral Health Dent, 5(1): 371-372.
Copyrights: ©2021 Kim Y-R, Kim S-Y & Jang H-Y. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Share :
  • 56

    Views & Citations
Patients with unmet dental care needs are cases for which dental treatment is necessary but is not received. The oral health of the elderly population requires attention because of various oral diseases and tooth loss accumulated since childhood. Elderly individuals living alone face difficulties in maintaining oral health independently and receiving dental treatment due to the absence of supports. Therefore, this mini review provides information on relevant factors influencing unmet dental care needs of the elderly living alone.

Keywords: Elderly living alone, Unmet dental care, Unmet medical care, Stress
 
INTRODUCTION
As the world’s population continues to age, interest in the health of the elderly is increasing. Various welfare policies related to the elderly have been advanced, with a focus on maintaining a healthy older life [1]. Along with physical and mental health issues, interest in oral health issues has also increased [2]. Oral health is an essential component of overall health, and oral health conditions and diseases in the elderly are important because they can act as risk factors associated with chronic diseases and certain medication use [3].

The elderly living alone face many difficulties because they do not have dependents to provide support [4]. The lack of support from cohabiting families can lead to social problems in harsh environments [5]. The elderly living alone may have many unmet medical care needs due to their social vulnerability [6].

 Patients with unmet dental care needs refer to those patients who require dental care, but they do not receive it [7]. Previous studies on unmet dental care needs have found that older people often experience more unmet dental care needs [8], suggesting that the elderly are vulnerable to unmet dental care needs.

REVIEW

As a result of identifying factors related to unmet dental care needs in the elderly living alone, one study confirmed that the lower the monthly household income and the higher the symptoms of stress and depression, the higher is the rate of unmet dental care needs [9].

Most elderly individuals believe that dental care is expensive. In addition, because low-income elderly individuals often do not have any financial support from their families [5], dental care may be even more difficult to access. In previous studies, the most common cause of adults’ dissatisfaction with dental care was economic reasons [10]. It has been estimated that the elderly living alone have economic issues [11], and their dental needs are not satisfied because of their low economic level.

Furthermore, previous research has shown that the elderly who experience depression have higher unmet medical needs [12]. In comparison with the general elderly population, elderly individuals who live alone have a lower quality of life and a higher level of stress related to their poorer health because of the lack of family, social, or economic support. Hence, they are more likely to be exposed to factors harmful to their health, which can lead to unmet medical needs [13]. Oral disease is believed to result from this lack of support because it affects daily life to a lesser extent than systemic diseases. Also, oral disease is not a serious disease directly leading to death.

CONCLUSION

The unmet dental care needs of the elderly living alone are related to high stress and depression. As such, it is necessary to develop a program to improve these factors affecting unmet dental care needs. In addition, it is important to develop a system for managing stress and depression to help improve the quality of life of the elderly living alone.
  1. Kim YS, Seo HW (2020) Socio-economic factors affecting unmet dental care in the elderly: A comparative study on the status of living alone. J Korean Soc Dent Hyg 20(6): 809-817.
  2. Park HR, Ku IY, Moon SJ (2014) A Study on social efficacy of senior citizens in welfare centers in some areas according to their subjective oral health and their quality of life related to oral health. J Korea Acad Indust Cooperation Soc 15(2): 1000-1009.
  3. Ahn ES Hwang JM, Shin MS (2015) Dental utilization associated factors among elderly. J Dent Hyg Sci 15(1): 60-66.
  4. Moon JH, Kim DH (2018) Factors influencing life satisfaction in elderly living alone. J Korean Content Assoc 18(1): 44-54.
  5. Lee YJ (2012) Determinants of welfare service utilization among the single and the married couple’s elderly. J Korean Gerontol Soc 32(4): 1119-1135.
  6. Lim JH (2013) Analysis of unmet medical need status based on the Korean Health Panel. Health Soc Sci 34:237-256.
  7. Lee MK, Jin HJ (2015) The prevalence and association factors of unmet dental care needs in korean adults: the 5th Korea national health and nutritional examination survey. J Korean Soc Dent Hyg 15(5): 787-795.
  8. Ahn ES, Shin MS (2016) Factors related to the unmet dental care needs of adults with dental pain. J Dent Hyg Sci 16(5): 355-360.
  9. Kim JH, Kim SY, Jo KH, Kim YR, Choi MJ (2021) Factors of unmet dental care needs among elderly living alone. J Korean Acad Oral Health 45(2): 77-81
  10. Yoo SH, Park IS, Kim YM (2017) A decision-tree analysis of influential factors and reasons for unmet dental care in Korean adults. Health Soc Welf Rev 37: 294-335.
  11. Kim YS (2014) The study of the impact of the family type on the health promoting behavior and physical and mental health of elderly people. Health Soc Welf Rev 34(3): 400-429.
  12. Moon JH, Kang MA (2016) The prevalence and predictors of unmet medical needs among the elderly living alone in Korea: An application of the behavioral model for vulnerable populations. Health Soc Welf Rev 36(2): 480-510.
  13. Ju YJ, Kim TH, Han KT, Lee HJ, Kim WR, et al. (2017) Association between unmet healthcare needs and health-related quality of life: A longitudinal study. Euro J Public Health 27(4): 631-637.