Tips for Helping Your Schizophrenic Relative with Physical and Dental Health Issues

Dentist Blog

It's difficult watching a relative deal with the problems schizophrenia creates for them. Medication may be working well to manage their symptoms, but medication can have horrible side effects. These effects can place them at increased risk of other health issues. If you're helping your relative to manage their illness, you might be wondering what you can do to help them with their overall health. These tips should help.

Poor Hygiene

People with schizophrenia can struggle with organisation, and while medication can help, it can also cause tiredness, reducing their motivation to care for themselves. This can lead to issues with poor personal hygiene. If this is the case with your relative, you can help by making them a checklist of activities that they should do every day. Add brushing teeth, showering and getting dressed to the list. Get them to check off the activities as they've done them. Try to encourage them to do these at the same time daily to help establish a routine. Taking care of hygiene can help give your relative some confidence and boost their self-esteem. It will also help them to build social relationships, allowing them to get back to some normality.

Dental Health

The antipsychotic medication your relative takes can have side effects that contribute to poor dental health. A common side effect of some medication is dry mouth. The lack of saliva increases the chances of bad breath, cavities, and gum disease. It can be difficult for schizophrenics to remember to schedule regular dental appointments and here's where you can help. Make sure you register them with your family dentist and set reminders to make sure they attend regular checkups. Ensure that they tell the dentist about their medication. You can also encourage them to drink water regularly and chew sugar-free gum to help combat the effects of a dry mouth.


The risk of suffering incontinence is increased by some antipsychotic drugs. This can be a big problem in older people. If this is an issue for your relative, consult with their doctor about a change of medication or an adjustment of the dose. If this isn't a possibility, then strengthening the pelvic floor muscles using Kegel exercises can help. Speak to a physiotherapist about starting a strengthening programme. There may also be additional medications that can help with the issue.

Weight Gain

Some antipsychotic medicines can lead to obesity in patients taking them by increasing appetite and causing tiredness. Weight gain is one of the biggest health challenges that people with schizophrenia face. It can also lead to secondary problems such as diabetes. The risk of diabetes may also be increased by certain medications due to their effect on insulin action within the muscle. Help your relative by encouraging a change in lifestyle -- eating differently and exercising can assist them with this. Seeing a dietician can be a good start in helping them to re-educate themselves about food. Taking a brisk walk with your relative daily for 30 - 40 minutes will provide a good daily workout and should contribute to making a difference.


3 June 2016

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.