Nurses’ Notes – Practical, Helpful Tips for Caregivers

mouth care image

Activities Of Daily Living (ADL)


Of the 6 Activities of Daily Living – Eating, Bathing, Dressing, Grooming, Mouth Care and Toileting, which activity is the most complex task for persons suffering from Dementia to complete?

Answer:  Mouth Care

In most cases, persons with Dementia will:

  1. say “I already brushed my teeth”
  2. be unable to complete the task themselves
  3. refuse to do the task and become agitated when requested

Why is this task so complex and difficult?

Mouth care involves numerous steps to successfully complete the task. The person with Dementia needs to be able to:

  1. find/recognize the toothbrush
  2. wet the toothbrush with water
  3. find/recognize the toothpaste and open the tube
  4. apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush
  5. brush upper and lower teeth
  6. rinse the toothpaste from their mouth with water

The Caregiver’s role in mouth care involves assisting the person to initiate the task and to carry out the activity successfully by:

Explaining and guiding the person throughout each step patiently, slowly, calmly, gently and with a smile.

Remember to praise the person for a “job well done.”


Flossing and Denture Care are too difficult for persons with Dementia to do alone and these tasks need to be carried out by the family, homecare, or private caregivers.

Please contact Carol Edwards at or 416-362-9176 if you would like assistance with other ADLs for persons with dementia.

Photo of Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee is a Geriatric Nurse Consultant, who was a teacher since 1982, working at Baycrest for 13 years. See Rosalee’s full bio on our team page.