Kauffman has devoted her career to “the old old,” as demographers call the fastest-growing segment of America’s senior-citizen population. She estimates that the average age of her patients is 90. She cares for them in a setting that’s even more unusual for dentists than for doctors: their homes.
Kauffman also showed me a video that she shares (with permission) with her students at the Dental School, where she’s a clinical assistant professor in the community oral health division. It was a recording of a conversation she’d had with a patient suffering from advanced dementia. She was an elderly woman with untamed white hair, blotchy skin, and a scratchy, nasal voice that made me think immediately of Miracle Max, the wizened old potion-mixer portrayed by Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride.
Read the entire May/June 2017 Penn Gazette article here.