About 75 million elderly persons in India, or one in two people above 60 years of age, suffer from some chronic disease, shows the first part of the world’s largest study on the elderly — The Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI)– released on Wednesday
In India, 30 per cent of the 103 million people above the age of 60 display symptoms of depression, according to a recent government survey. It estimated that 8.3 per cent of the country’s elderly population have probable major depression. This means, one in every 12 elderly person in the country have had depression.
The prevalence figure is 10 times higher than the self-reported diagnosed depression of 0.8 per cent in the elderly population, pointing at the burden of undiagnosed cases, the report said.
Among the people who are of 45 to 59 years of age, 26 per cent show depressive symptoms.
The first chapter of the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI) was conducted by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare between April 2017 and December 2018 on 72,250 older adults aged 45 years and above. The report was published on Wednesday.
.About 40% have some form of disability, and as high as 20% are suffering from mental health issues. Also, 27% of this population group has multi-morbidities, which translates to roughly 35 million people.
“About 45 million have cardiovascular disease and hypertension and about 20 million suffer from diabetes, and 24% of the elderly has difficulty in performing daily functions such as walking, eating, toilet etc; according to this survey,” said KS James, director, The International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, which is the nodal institution for implementing the survey.
“Even if we assume 90% of these people are taken care of at home, there is still 10% that would require professional help. Imagine the employment opportunities that will be generated in future and the number of people who would require training to take care of the elderly in our country,” said James.
The study was commission by the Union ministry of health and family welfare in 2016, to track ageing patterns and diseases affecting India’s 103 million people over 60 years of age. The other institutes that collaborated for the survey include the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health, and the University of Southern California.
With 65% of India’s population under 35 years of age when the study was commissioned, there are expected to be 350 million people above 60 years by 2050, which is why the government focused on documenting the problems faced by the elderly in our country and how their problems could be addressed.
“From 9% in 2011, the 60 plus population in the country is likely to go up to 20% in 2050. A common plan will be created for the care of elderly in the country using the findings of the LASI study for implementation in future,” said Vandana Gurnani, mission director, National Health Mission.
The first wave of LASI covered a panel sample of 72,250 individuals age 45 years and above, including 31, 464 people above 60 and 6,749 oldest-old persons aged 75 and above.
More elderly women (9 per cent) have prevalence of probable major depression than men (7 per cent). Also, the figure is higher among rural residents (9 per cent) than their urban counterparts (6 per cent). The report also says that 10 per cent of the elderly population who live alone suffer from depression.
The study shows 3 per cent of all the elderly have some form of mental impairment.
Fewer people above the age of 60 who have 10 or more years of schooling (5 per cent) have depression than those with less than primary education (9 per cent).
Over a tenth of the elderly population have probable major depression in Madhya Pradesh (17 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (14 per cent), Delhi (11 per cent), Bihar (10 per cent), and Goa (10 per cent).
Among the older adults above the age of 45 years, over 60% were hospitalised at a private facility in the 12 months prior to the survey. The mean out-of-pocket expenditure in private health facility among the elderly is Rs 31,933 compared to Rs 71,232 among those aged 45 to 59.
The highest mean out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure is reported in the state of Arunachal Pradesh (Rs 10,368) followed by
Himachal Pradesh (Rs 3,477), Nagaland (Rs 3,288) and Meghalaya (Rs 3,152). Tamil Nadu (Rs 641), Gujarat (Rs 644), and Puducherry (Rs 645) reported lower mean OOP expenditure on outpatient care.
Around 6 per cent of the country’s elderly population live on their own while 5.2 per cent have said they have faced ill treatment at home in the one year preceding the survey.
The report added that LASI, the largest such survey in the world, will be conducted every two years for the next 25 years.