Experience of Oral Care among Elderly in Nursing Homes
Life expectancy among the elderly has been improving for decades and edentulousness is constantly decreasing among the senior citizens. The steady decrease of tooth loss among the elderly is a challenge to the dental profession due to the increased demand of oral care. This study aims to explore the perspectives regarding oral health and oral care among the elderly living in nursing homes.
Ten subjects from two nursing homes in Umeå were interviewed based on a defined interview guide. The interview guide contained open-ended questions regarding oral health and oral care. The subjects were interviewed, all the interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Categories, subcategories and codes were created using qualitative content analysis.
Two categories and six subcategories were established based on qualitative content analysis. The two categories revealed opposing attitudes, the first promoted oral care and the second disfavored oral health. The oral care promoted factors included general satisfaction with the elderly’s’ present oral status, positive experiences associated with oral care and strong desire to maintain their own oral hygiene. The most notable negative factors for good oral health was the lack of thorough oral examinations and individually adapted assistance with daily oral hygiene. The informants took oral hygiene as a part of their integrity and expressed wishes to be independent.
In general, the informants held positive attitudes toward their current oral status and understood that proper oral care is a prerequisite to good oral health. However, it should be noted that assistance with oral hygiene is not practiced in either of the two nursing homes on a regular basis. This may be attributed to staff shortages and the residents desire to maintain their independence.
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