The prevalence of disability in older people in Hai, Tanzania

Type Journal Article - Age and ageing
Title The prevalence of disability in older people in Hai, Tanzania
Volume 41
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 517-523
Background: the World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion of the world's population are disabled. Disability is associated with increasing age and poverty, yet there are few reliable data regarding disability among the elderly in low-income countries. The aim of this study was to accurately document the prevalence of disability in those aged 70 years and over in a community-based setting in sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods: we performed a community-based study of people aged 70 years and over in Hai, Tanzania. Participants underwent disability assessment using the culturally non-specific Barthel index (BI), and also clinical assessment for neurological disorders and memory problems.
Results: in 2,232 participants, the age-adjusted prevalence of severe disability (BI < 15) was 3.7% (95% CI: 2.9–4.5) and the age-adjusted prevalence of moderate disability (BI: 15–18) was 6.2% [95% confidence interval (CI): 5.2–7.2]. Increasing age, female gender, memory problems and the presence of neurological disorders were all independent predictors of the presence of disability.
Conclusion: in this study, the average disability level was lower than seen in most high-income countries. This may reflect increased mortality from disabling disease in low-income countries. Disability is likely to increase as the population of low-income countries ages and disease survival improves.

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