Prevalence of health morbidity and health seeking behavior among elderlies in rural Kerala

Vani Srinivas


Background: Population ageing has profound social, economic and political implications for a country. The increasing number of older persons put a strain on health care and social care systems in the country. Old age comes with lot of ailment and diseases. Kerala’s elderly population proportion is higher than that of India. The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence and type of health morbidities among elderlies, in rural area.

 Methods: We conducted a community-based cross- sectional study in rural area of Palakkad district of Kerala from September to October 2017 among 396 randomly selected elderlies. The data was collected by 3rd year, MBBS students using pretested, semi structured questionnaire. The medical records were reviewed by students. Data were entered and analysed using Microsoft Excel 2016 version.

Results: Out of 396 elderlies, the self-reported prevalence of health morbidities was 91.6%. Out of 361 elderlies with morbidities, 30% had atleast one morbidity and rest had multiple morbidities. The most common self-reported morbidities were hypertension (42.4%), loss of the natural teeth (40.2%), arthritis (38.1%), diabetes (34.8%), cataract (29.5%), asthma (9.1%), angina (8.3%), history of injury (7.3%) and history of recent surgeries (41.2%) in past. More than 90% of elderly diagnosed with lifestyle diseases were on treatment.

Conclusions: The prevalence of non-communicable lifestyle related diseases and degenerative diseases is high among elderlies and is the major burden of disease. The elderlies had good treatment seeking behaviour towards non communicable diseases. However, needs improvement in treatment seeking behaviour of degenerative diseases.


Elderly, Health, Morbidity, Kerala, India

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