Bathing is an important and potentially challenging self-care activity, and disability in bathing is associated with several adverse consequences. Little is known about older persons’ experiences with and perspectives on bathing.
To understand the bathing experiences, attitudes, and preferences of older persons in order to inform the development of effective patient-centered interventions.
Qualitative Study using the Grounded Theory framework.
Twenty-three community-living persons, age ≥ 78 years, identified from the Precipitating Events Project (PEP).
In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in the participant’s home.
Three themes emerged: 1) the importance and personal significance of bathing to older persons, 2) variability in attitudes, preferences, and sources of bathing assistance, and 3) older persons’ anticipation of and responses to bathing disability.
The bathing experiences described by study participants underscore the personal significance of bathing and the need to account for attitudes and preferences when designing bathing interventions. Quantitative disability assessments may not capture the bathing modifications made by older persons in anticipation of disability and may result in missed opportunities for early intervention. Findings from this study can be used to inform the development of targeted, patient-centered interventions that can subsequently be tested in clinical trials.