School of Medical and Health Sciences
The objective of the study was to explore how older people living in a residential aged care facility perceived that their oral health influenced their food preferences and attitudes towards food, their social interactions and their self-esteem.
Poor oral health can have biological, behavioural and social impacts on quality of life among older adults (aged 65+ years). In terms of biological impacts, oral health impairments may cause older adults to avoid many types of foods. This shift in dietary pattern can lead to malnutrition among older people, undermine general health and negatively impact quality of life (QOL).
Materials and Methods
Using a mixed methods approach, quantitative data from the General Oral Health Assessment Index (GOHAI) were explored and supported by data from semi-structured interviews with 10 older adults from a residential aged care facility in Perth, (Australia) to provide insights into their oral health-related quality of life. Thematic analysis of qualitative data was guided by the conceptual framework informed by Locker.
The average GOHAI score was 32.9 ± 3.6, which indicated that participants had an average oral health-related quality of life. Participants coped with oral functional problems by adopting personal strategies and seeking organisational assistance. Some participants appeared to have accepted associated changes to their physical appearance, while others reported significant dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Perceptions differed on their social interactions at the facility, from being self-conscious about their own oral health problems, to distaste at others' eating behaviours.
Poor oral health had negative biological, behavioural and social impacts on daily activities and quality of life among some participants. However, changes at the organisation level may help to support participant QOL.
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Exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and other interventions for optimal health across the lifespan