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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Unmet Needs of the Elderly in a Rural Population of Meerut

Author(s): P.K. Goel, SK. Garg, J.V. Singh, M. Bhatnagar, H. Chopra, S.K. Bajpai

Vol. 28, No. 4 (2003-10 - 2003-12)

Deptt. of Community Medicine, L.L.R.M. Medical College, Meerut

Abstract

Research question: What are the psychosocial needs of elderly and availability and utilization of Geriatric welfare services.

Objectives: 1. To assess the psychosocial needs of elderly in a rural area. 2. To assess the availability and utilization of Geriatric welfare services.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Subcentre villages under Rural Health Training Centre, Daurala of Department of Community Medicine, L.L.R.M. Medical College, Meerut.

Participants: 354 persons aged 60 years and above.

Statistical analysis: Proportions.

Results: Out of 354 elderly studied 58.5% were financially dependent, 69.5% were found enjoying their leisure time at home, 55.1% were having sad attitude towards their lives, 46.3% were not aware of and 96% hadnever utilized any Geriatric welfare service. In 59.2% of cases the distance of government health facilities was more than 3 kms.

Conclusions: The financial and social needs of the elderly should be fulfilled by preserving traditional joint family system, promoting light home based occupations, life style changes for healthy ageing and by increasing awareness and utilization of geriatric welfare services as well as accessibility to government health services.

Key Words: Geriatric problems, Elderly population, Geriatric services, Unmet needs, Social geriatrics

Introduction:

In the era of population ageing, the elderly population being the fastest growing section of population, needs due consideration. By 2020 India will harbour about 158 million elderly, second largest population of elderly world wide after China (230 million).

Material and Methods:

In all, 360 persons aged 60 years and above were selected for study taking estimated prevalence of morbidity 52% as per NSSO (1998) with confidence interval 95% and precision of 10% selecting 15 individuals from each of the 24 subcentre villages under Rural Health Training Centre, Daurala of Department of Community Medicine, L.L.R.M. Medical College, Meerut.

A total of 354 (98.3%) elderly were studied from August 2001 to June 2002 excluding 6 (1.7%) who were non-cooperative/non-responsive. House to house visits were made and information was collected on a predesigned and pretested schedule.

Results:

Table I: Age and sex wise distribution of study ) population.

Age group Male Female Total
(years) No. (%) No. (%) No. (%)
60-64 16 (9.6) 47 (25.1) 63 ( 17.8)
65-69 49 (29.3) 55 (29.4) 104 (29.4)
70-74 59 (35.3) 44 (23.5) 103 (29.1)
75-79 18 (10.8) 13 (7.0) 31 (8.7)
80+ 25 ( 15.0) 28 ( 15.0) 53 (15.0)
Total 167 (47.2) 187 (52.8) 354 ( 100.0)

Out of 354 elderly studied, 47.2% were in the age group of 60-69 years, 37.8% in 70-79 years and rest 15.0% were in age group of 80 years and above. The females (52.8%) outnumbered the males (47.2%).

Table II: Psycho-social status and economic dependence.

Status No. (%)
Economically
Dependant 207 (58.5)
Independant 147 (41.5)
Company
Available 240 (67.8)
lonely 114 (32.2)
Advice
Honoured 234 (66.1)
Ignored 120 (33.9)
Leisure Time activities
outside home 108 (30.5)
at home 246 (69.5)
Social Contacts
outside home 266 (75.2)
no contact 88 (24.8)
Attitude towards life
happy 159 (44.9)
sad 195 (55.1)
Main reason of sadness
loss of spouse 96 (49.2)
illness 86 (44.1)
lonliness 72 (36.9)
Poverty 64 (32.8)

58.5% elderly were dependent financially, 32.2% were feeling lonely while family members of 33.9% elderly used to ignore their advice. 69.5% of elderly were having no leisure time activity outside home, 24.8% of them were not having any social contact outside home and 55.1% of elderly were having sad attitude towards their lives.

Table III: Availability and utilization of geriatric welfare services (GWS).

Geriatric welfare services No. (%)
Awareness of GWS
Aware 190 (53.7)
Not aware 164 (46.3)
Utilization of GWS
Ever used 14 (4.0)
Never used 340 (96.0)
Distance of Govt. health facility
1 Km. 18 (5.1)
1-3 Kms. 127 (35.9)
>3 Kms. 209 (59.0)

About half (46.3%) elderly were not aware of any geriatric welfare services and 96.0% of them had never utilized any of the geriatric welfare services. It is also evident from Table III that 59% of subjects had to travel more than 3 kilometers for government health facilities.

Discussion:

Age group 60-69 years (47.2%) constituted the major fraction of population followed by 70-79 years (37.8%) and above 80 years of age (15.0%) in comparison to 68.3%, 23.3% and 8.3% respectively at Varanasi1, and 63.5%, 29.5% and 7.0% respectively in rural area of Tamil Nadu2. The sex distribution showed that females outnumbered (52.8%) the males (47.2%) similar to 55% and 45% respectively at Wardha3 and 52.3% and 47.7% respectively in rural area of South India4.

Financial dependence was found in 58.5% elderly similar to the findings of NSSO' 52nd round (51.1%) and Elango' (66%). 32.2% of subjects were feeling lonely, 33.9% found their family members ignored their advice and 24.8% had no social contact outside home comparable with the findings of Pradhan et al6 being 58.7%, 27% and 11.7% respectively.

The major needs of elderly were found to be economic dependence, ignorance to their advice, sad attitude towards life, loneliness, distant government health facilities and lack of awareness as well as utilization of geriatric welfare services. Therefore, it is required to recognize these problems and carry out regular IEC activities to increase the awareness for more utilization of geriatric welfare services.

References:

  1. Ravishankar (2000): Health profile of elderly in the rural field practice area of deptt. of Community Medicine. Thesis submitted for M.D. Community Medicine to BHU Varanasi (Unpublished).
  2. Elango S: A study of health and health related social problems in the geriatric population in a rural area in Tamil Nadu Ind. J. Pub. Health, 1998; 42(l): 7-8.
  3. Kishore S, Garg BS: Socio-medical problems of aged population in a rural area of Wardha District Ind. J. Pub. Health, 1997; 41(l): 43-8.
  4. Chacko A, Joseph A: Health problems of elderly in rural South India, Ind. J. Comm. Med. 1990; 15(2): 70-3.
  5. NSSO: The aged in India - A socio-economic profile of NSS 52nd round (July 1995-June 1996) Government of India, 1998.
  6. Pradhan N (2000); A clinico-social study of chronic morbidity and hospital services utilization of the elderly in an urban area of Delhi. Thesis submitted for M.D. Community Medicine to University of Delhi (Unpublished).
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