Prevalence and determinants of disability in the rural elderly population in Northern India

Type Journal Article - Indian Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Title Prevalence and determinants of disability in the rural elderly population in Northern India
Volume 16
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2005
: To study the prevalence of impairment in a rural elderly population in India and its association with age, gender and other selected variables. Design: Cross sectional study Setting: Intensive field practice area of Comprehensive Rural Health Services Project Ballabgarh in distt. Faridabad, Haryana, a rural field practice area of Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi. Subjects: All people who had completed 60 years of age at the time of interview. Methods: The study sample was selected using stratified random cluster sampling. Impairment was assessed by using Lachs scale, except for vision assessment, where instead of Jaeger Card; finger counting at a distance of 3 meters for each eye separately in good day light method was applied. Results: Out of the 1117 aged a total of 987 (88.4%) could be interviewed. Among these, 490 (49.6%) were males and 497 (50.4%) were females. About four-fifth (81.6%) of them were illiterate. One-fifth of the males and half of the females were widowed. Most (78.2% males & 86.1% females) of the aged were having one or the other health problems. Forty-eight percent of the elderly had at least one impairment. Impairment increased with age and was more common among females. Visual impairment was the most frequently observed. In the functional assessment, 23.6% of the subjects were blind in one eye and 16.4% were blind in both eyes. 11% were observed to have hearing impairment. About 9 % had impairments of arm functions. When tested for leg function, 1.5% of the aged were not able to move, mostly both legs. On logistic regression, impairment was positively associated with age, illiteracy, loss of interest, chronic health problems, cognitive defect, and not gainfully employed. Conclusion: Impairment is an important health problem among elderly in rural area of northern India. There is a need to provide appropriate and comprehensive service; so as to enable the elders to realize their full potential and lead a healthy and happy life.

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