Published: 2022-10-29

Functional status and mental health among the elderly in rural South India: a cross sectional study

Zachariah Thomas, Adithya C. Godfred, Karthick M. Sriram, Gaurav Rout, Anna Eldho, Jason J. George, Reshma N. Koshy, Anna K. Abraham, Srividhya Balasubramanian, Eman C. Lyngdoh, Simran Jachuck, Lalremruati Chawngthu, Priyanka Gautam, Pavithra B., Ranjith Viswanath, Bhavya Balasubramanya, Anu M. Oommen, Anuradha Rose


Background: Functional status assessment in the elderly helps to improve quality of life and prognosticate chronic disease. Literature on the status of functional ability of the elderly in rural India is limited.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was done among 164 rural elderly persons in eight villages from Vellore, Tamil Nadu, to assess the prevalence of poor functional status, mental and physical health.

Elderly aged 60 and above were selected by systematic random sampling, from eight villages which were selected by simple random sampling from a single rural block. A semi structured questionnaire on disability, health status, activities of daily living and functional assessment (Katz Index), depression (Geriatric Depression Scale-5) and cognition (Dementia Assessment by Rapid Test) was administered.

Results: Out of 164 participants, 6.7% (11, 95% CI: 2.8%-10.6%) had a dependent functional status. While 68.9% (n=113) reported a chronic condition, 21.9% (n=36) reported multiple comorbidities and 37.2% (n=61) screened positive for depression. All those with a dependent functional status had a chronic condition. Female gender (OR: 8.33, 95% CI: 1.04-100.00), living alone (OR: 11.60, 95% CI: 1.58-85.34) and depression (OR: 11.29, 95% CI: 2.00-63.70) were found to be significantly associated with dependent functional status.

Conclusions: Although majority of the community dwelling rural elderly had normal functional status, given the high burden of chronic diseases, it is important to routinely assess functional status to identify elderly at risk of disabilities.



Activities of daily living, Elderly, Chronic disease, Depression, Cognitive dysfunction

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