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Research Article  |   July 2005
Problems With Dressing in the Frail Elderly
Author Affiliations
  • William C. Mann, PhD, OTR, is Chair and Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, PO Box 100164, Gainesville, Florida 32610-0164; wmann@hp.ufl.edu
  • Christine Kimble, OT, is Master’s Student, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • Michael D. Justiss, MOT, OTR/L, Research Assistant, RERC-Tech-Aging, Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Program, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • Elena Casson is Publications Director, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
  • Machiko Tomita, PhD, is Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York
  • Samuel S. Wu, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Statistics, College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
Article Information
Assistive Technology / Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Adjustments to Disability in Daily Occupations
Research Article   |   July 2005
Problems With Dressing in the Frail Elderly
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2005, Vol. 59, 398-408. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.4.398
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2005, Vol. 59, 398-408. doi:10.5014/ajot.59.4.398
Abstract

OBJECTIVE. Dressing is an important activity of daily living, yet many older adults have difficulty due to impairments. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of assistive devices for dressing by older persons with impairments, and to look at differences among frail elders with no dressing difficulty, upper-extremity-only dressing difficulty, lower-extremity-only dressing difficulty, and both upper- and lower-extremity dressing difficulty.

METHOD. We conducted in-home interviews and functional assessments with 1,101 elderly persons with activities of daily living and/or instrumental activities of daily living limitations in Western New York and Northern Florida. Participants were assigned to one of four groups based on Functional Independence Measure™ item scores for upper-extremity dressing and lower-extremity dressing. Descriptive statistics were used to report results.

RESULTS. Compared to women, there were relatively more men with lower-extremity dressing difficulty than with upper-extremity dressing difficulty. The group with both upper- and lower-extremity dressing difficulty reported the highest level of pain and scored lowest on all measures of functional status and mental status. The most commonly used dressing devices were associated with lower-extremity dressing.

CONCLUSION. There are differences in gender, health status, functional status, and mental status among elderly persons grouped by upper- or lower-extremity dressing difficulty. Results suggest that therapists should consider such differences as gender and type of difficulty (upper- or lower-extremity dressing) in both therapeutic approaches and recommendations for assistive devices. Pain is another important consideration, but it can often be reduced during dressing by using assistive devices.