The preference and importance of bathing, toileting and mouth care habits in older persons

Jiska Cohen-Mansfield*, Barbara Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose: The goal of this study was to describe bathing, toileting, and mouth care habits and preferences of older persons, as well as the importance of such habits. Design and Methods: Fifty-eight community-dwelling older persons were administered the Self-maintenance Habits And Preferences in Elderly questionnaire (SHAPE) during a one-on-one interview with a research assistant. Preferences were described by frequency distributions and mean importance for each item was calculated. Gender differences in preferences were examined using χ2 analyses, t tests were used to compare importance levels. Results: Women reported spending a longer time bathing, they were more likely to have privacy while bathing, to use a washcloth, a regular size towel, and less likely to use a large towel than were men. One-third of the women reported using some type of absorbent undergarment, while no men did so. Mouth care was the category that received the highest importance ratings. Although order of importance of items was similar across genders, women assigned higher levels of importance to these items than did men. Importance ratings given to atypical habits, such as unusually long or more than 1 bath/day, were higher than those attributed to more usual habits. Implications: Knowledge of the range and importance of such self-care practices can provide information useful in the development of programs and for individualized care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-385
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Mouth care routine
  • Self-care practices
  • Toileting habits


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