Meeting the needs of elderly with bathing disability

Magnus Zingmark, Birgitta Bernspång

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND/AIMS: Difficulties with bathing are frequent among older people and are associated with an increasing need for societal support. As loss of independence has a negative impact on health and wellbeing, it is important to study interventions that can provide the required support for people to be able to remain independent. Occupational therapy interventions can improve clients' abilities enabling them to bathe themselves, thus reducing the need for other, more long-term societal support from, e.g. a home help. In this study, two groups of elderly people with difficulties in bathing were compared; the clients in the intervention group were engaged in occupational therapy.

METHODS: A quasi-experimental non-equivalent control group design was used, in which participants with reported difficulties in bathing were recruited consecutively from two municipalities. The clients in the intervention group routinely received occupational therapy, whereas clients in the control group received assistance from a home help for bathing. Activities of daily living, quality of life and home-help allocation were assessed at the baseline and after 15 weeks.

RESULTS: Clients in the intervention group received less than three home visits on average, with majority of interventions consisting of graded activity and the use of an encouraging approach. Seventy per cent of the interventions were adaptive. Activities of daily living and quality of life of both groups improved, but the differences of being allocated a home help were significant.

CONCLUSION: Occupational therapy interventions seem beneficial in terms of supporting older people in becoming independent of home help in bathing but the results must be interpreted with caution as there were differences at baseline between the groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-71
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jun
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Occupational Therapy

Free keywords

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Baths
  • Disabled Persons/rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Home Care Services
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Quality of Life/psychology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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