Older people’s experiences of oral health and assisted daily oral care in short-term facilities.
Older people’s oral health has improved, and many retain their natural teeth throughout their life. However, their daily oral care can be more difficult because of compromised general health and the reduced capacity for self-care that often comes with old age. More knowledge is needed about how older people view their oral health and oral care. The aim of this study was to describe how older people in short-term care experience their oral health and daily oral care.A descriptive, qualitative study was performed through interviews with 14 older people (74-95 years) recruited from short-term care units in two Swedish regions. Data were analysed using inductive content analysis.The findings are described in one main category, three categories and nine sub-categories. The main category was Adapting to a changed oral condition while striving to retain independence. The first category, Wanting to manage daily oral care independently, contained three subcategories: Having always brushed my teeth without help, Being satisfied with my mouth and teeth, and Having to accept help if necessary. The second category, Acceptance of changes in oral condition, had three subcategories: Difficulty in chewing and swallowing, Difficulty with tooth brushing, and Not considering a dentist visit to be worth the cost. The third category, Barriers to receiving assistance from staff, had three subcategories: Staff lacking the time to help, Not wanting to be a burden, and Lack of confidence in staff’s knowledge.The participants were generally satisfied with their oral health despite an expressed need for dental treatment. Daily oral care was something they wanted to manage themselves, and they had a strong desire to stay independent for as long as possible. Closer collaboration between dental and health care staff is necessary in order to implement clinical practice guidelines for oral health care and increase nursing staff’s attention towards older peoples’ oral health.
Authors: Susanne Koistinen, Katri Ståhlnacke, Lena Olai, Anna Ehrenberg, Eva Carlsson