MERCY LIFE: Dental Care for the Elderly

Jane J. Chang

Lauren Lee

Chang, Jane J, Lee, Lauren
Faculty / Advisor: Durst, Lee
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences, Division of Community Oral Health


Mercy LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) is a health services center that provides dental, medical, pharmacy, and behavioral services for geriatric patients living in West Philadelphia. The center provides a multidisciplinary approach to keep seniors as healthy as possible so that they may keep living safely at home while maintaining their independence and quality of life. Transportation is provided for seniors, and Penn Dental Medicine recently expanded capacities to four dental chairs at the LIFE site to provide increased access and care to patients.

Project Overview

The goals of this project included caring for the dental needs of the older adult population of West Philadelphia while community honors students navigated the complexities of caring for geriatric patients with multiple comorbidities. Oral health care services included diagnostic, preventative, restorative, prosthodontic, and surgical procedures that were provided on a weekly basis at the Mercy LIFE. Goals of the project also included educating the patient population about their oral health with routine dental visits and preventive screenings, recommending best practices for oral hygiene and dental habits, and maintaining proper nutrition.


By being able to volunteer time each week at Mercy LIFE, honors students were able positively impact the community of West Philadelphia by treating the dental needs of numerous geriatric patients. Working with faculty and the community members in a dental capacity allowed for the advancement of Mercy LIFE’s mission of providing interdisciplinary care and improving the quality of lives.