Unmet health needs of elderly: a community based cross-sectional study in rural areas of Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu

N. Kalusivalingam, Prateek Bobhate, A. Kalaivani, R. Karnaboopathy


Background: The proportion of elderly population is on the increasing trend in India. Morbidity was found higher among the elderly population. About 10% increased risk of mortality was found among elderly people with unmet needs. The objective of the study was to assess the morbidity pattern and unmet health needs among elderly population in rural areas of Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu.

Methods: This community based cross-sectional study was conducted for a period of 18 months in four selected villages in Kancheepuram district, Tamil Nadu, among 390 participants. EASY care standard (2010) questionnaire was used for assessment of health care needs. Frequency distribution of study variables and association using chi-square test were done using SPSS software version 23.

Results: Out of 390 study participants, 51% were females. The most common morbidity was arthritis (40.5%), followed by diabetes and difficulty in hearing (29.5% each). Psycho-social issues such as loneliness (36.7%), little interest in doing things (30.8%), feeling hopelessness (30%) were noted among the study participants. The highest unmet health need was 11.8% for difficulty in hearing. The unmet health needs were associated with older age, widowhood, lower educational status, inability to work, low socio-economic status, absence of individual income, and absence of care taker of the study participants.

Conclusions: The health needs of elderly are multi-faceted viz., medical, psycho-social, financial, etc. Since, family characteristics play a major role in meeting the health needs of elderly population, community-oriented services mainly involving family members will help for addressing the unmet needs of the elderly.



Elderly, Rural, Unmet needs

Full Text:



United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World population prospects Highlights, 2019. Available at: Accessed on 22 January 2020.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World population prospects Highlights, 2019 revision Highlights. Available at: Publications/Files/WPP2019_Highlights.pdf. Accessed on 22 January 2020.

United Nations Population Fund 2017. ‘Caring for Our Elders: Early Responses’- India Ageing Report- 2017. UNFPA, New Delhi. Available at: 20%28Final%20Version%29.pdf. Accessed on 22 January 2020.

PHC Team. 6 Special Healthcare Needs of seniors. Available at: https://www.pasadenahealthcenter. com/2018/06/08/6-special-healthcare-needs-seniors. Accessed on 22 January 2020.

WHO. Long-term-care systems. Available at: Accessed on 22 January 2020.

UNFPA. The Status of Elderly in Tamil Nadu, 2011. Available at: 20Nadu.pdf. Accessed on 22 January 2020.

Herr M, Arvieu JJ, Aegerter P, Robine JM, Ankri J. Unmet health care needs of older people: prevalence and predictors in a French cross-sectional survey. Eur J Public Health. 2013;24(5):808-13.

Zhen Z, Feng Q, Gu D. The impacts of unmet needs for long-term care on mortality among older adults in China. J Disabil Policy Stud. 2015;25(4):243-51.

Philip KE, Alizad V, Oates A, Donkin DB, Pitsillides C, Syddall SP, et al. Development of EASY-Care, for brief standardized assessment of the health and care needs of older people; with latest information about cross-national acceptability. J Am Med Direct Assoc. 2014;15(1):42-6.

NHS commissioning .Who is considered a carer? Available at: commissioning/comm-carers/carers. Accessed on 22 January 2020.

Vlachantoni A. Unmet need for social care among older people. Ageing Soc. 2017;39(4):1-28.

Kumar AT, Chacko TV, Munuswamy S. Physical disabilities among the rural elderly: Identifying surrogate markers of unmet disability care needs. Int J Tropic Med. 2012;7(1):38-41.

Lahiri S, Biswas A, Santra S, Lahiri SK. Assessment of nutritional status among elderly population in the rural areas of West Bengal, India. Int J Med Sci Public Health. 2015;4(4):569-72.

Hameed S, Kumar N, Naik PM, Sachidananda K, Prasanna KS. Morbidity pattern among the elderly population in a rural area of Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka- a cross sectional study. Nat J Community Med. 2015;6(2):89-92.

Blazer DG, Sachs-Ericsson N, Hybels CF. Perception of unmet basic needs as a predictor of mortality among community-dwelling older adults. Am J Public Health. 2005;95(2):299-304.

Walters K, Iliffe S, Orrell M. An exploration of help-seeking behaviour in older people with unmet needs. Fam Pract. 2001;18(3):277-82.

Singh A, Bairwa M, Goel S, Bypareddy R, Mithra P. Prevalence and predictors of unmet needs among the elderly residents of the rural field practice area of a tertiary care centre from Northern India. Malaysia J Med Sci. 2016;23(5):44-50.

Borde A, Kinge A, Bawa M, Pagar V. A cross sectional study to assess the modifiable risk factors and morbidity profile of elderly people in a village in tribal part of Maharashtra. Int J Community Med Public Health. 2017;4(10):3830-4.

Goel PK, Garg SK, Singh JV, Bhatnagar M, Chopra H, Bajpai SK. Unmet needs of the elderly in rural population of Meerut. Indian J Community Med. 2003;28:165-6.

Kaur G, Bansal R, Anand T, Kumar A, Singh J. Morbidity profile of noncommunicable diseases among elderly in a city in North India. Clin Epidemiol Global Health. 2019;7(1):29-34.

Sharma MK, Swami HM, Bhatia V, Verma A, Bhatia SPS, Kaur G. An epidemiological study of correlates of osteo-arthritis in geriatric population of UT Chandigarh. Indian J Community Med. 2007;32(1):77.

Gupta E, Thakur A, Dixit S. Morbidity pattern and health seeking behaviour of the geriatric population in a rural area of district Faridabad, Haryana: a cross-sectional study. Int J Community Med Public Health. 2019;6(3):1096-101.

Panmei NT. Family care for older people in India: a study in Tamenglong District, Manipur (Doctoral dissertation, TISS Guwahati Campus). Available at: 1/Ningthouliu%20T.%20Panmei.pdf Accessed on 2 February 2020.

Sharma D, Mazta SR, Parashar A. Morbidity pattern and health-seeking behaviour of aged population residing in Shimla Hills of North India: A cross-sectional study. J Fam Med Primary Care. 2013;2(2):188.

Chandwani H, Jivarajani P, Jivarajani H. Health and social problems of geriatric population in an urban setting of Gujarat, India. Internet J Geriatr Gerontol. 2008;5(1):1-6.

Skirbekk V, James KS. Abuse against elderly in India-The role of education. BMC Public Health. 2014;14(1):336.

Chokkanathan S, Lee AE. Elder mistreatment in urban India: A community based study. J Elder Abuse Neglect. 2006;17(2):45-61.

Teguo MT, Simo-Tabue N, Stoykova R, Meillon C, Cogne M, Amiéva H, et al. Feelings of loneliness and living alone as predictors of mortality in the elderly: the PAQUID study. Psychosomat Med. 2016;78(8):904-9.

Grover S, Verma M, Singh T, Dahiya N, Nehra R. Loneliness and its correlates amongst elderly attending non-communicable disease rural clinic attached to a tertiary care centre of North India. Asian J Psychiatr. 2019;43:189-96.

Joseph LP. Problems of rural elderly women in Kerala: a social work concern. J Develop Pract. 2017;3:14-9.