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Being bedridden was a slow process influenced by interactions with the environment, nurses, and social ties

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A Zegelin

Dr A Zegelin, Private University Witten/Herdecke, Witten, Germany;


What are the experiences of people who become bedridden?


Grounded theory.


Nursing homes and personal residences in Witten, Germany.


32 people who were 62–98 years of age (59% women), had chronic illnesses, were bedridden for 2 weeks to 4 years, and had had the option during this time of being able to get up.


30-minute semistructured interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analysed using a grounded theory approach.


Phase 1: instability. All patients reported problems while walking before they became immobile (eg, “shaky,” “dizzy”). Some used a walking stick or a rollator when leaving the house. Most patients only moved around inside the house, supporting themselves on furniture, and all had fallen at some stage. Phase 2: incident. All patients had a hospital stay and/or a fall, which reduced their mobility. Patients remained passive and withdrew to their beds, not knowing where else to go. Transfer situation. How patients were transferred affected how often they got up. If carers seemed weak, incompetent, or complaining or if 2 carers were needed to make the transfer, patients reduced their demands. …

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  • Source of funding: Robert Bosch Foundation.