Health Problems of the Elderly: Cross-Sectional Study in a Rural Population in Kerala
Background: During old age, various health problems adversely affect an individual’s life and put the public health system in strain.
Aims: To estimate self reported chronic health problems of the elderly in a rural population in Kerala and to find out whether there are any gender related differences in these.
Subjects and Methods: A community-based, house to house survey of elderly persons (aged over 60 years) in a village in the field area of a teaching hospital was carried out. Information on their self reported medical problems (Help for Activities of daily life -ADL, Behaviour problems, Hearing and vision impairment, Incontinence ,Vertigo Stroke, Falls, sadness, Alcohol use ,Pan chewing ,smoking) were collected.Results were analyzed in terms of proportions and percentages. Associations were explored with odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: Elderly persons constituted 13.03 % [2728 /20,942] of the entire population. Data was obtained from 99.41% (2712/2728) of them. Mean age was 68.59 (+ 7.78). 55.68% (1510/2712)] were females. Self reported prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 27.31% [410/1501) among females and 31.25% (374/1195) among males. Prevalence of hypertension was 50.86% (768/1501) among females and 35.11 % (422/1195) among males (OR 1.9131, 95 %CI 1.6375-2.2352, p<0.0001). All health problems except stroke were significantly more prevalent among women. Alcohol use was less frequent among females (6/1510; 0.40 %) compared to males (170/1202; 14.14 %) (OR 0.0242 95%; CI0.0107-0.0549; p= <0.0001).
Conclusions: A rural cohort of elderly persons in Kerala had a high prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, falls, impairment of ADL, sadness. Females were particularly more vulnerable to these. This coupled with the greater number of women in the elderly population calls for interventions focussing more on this segment of population.
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