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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 55  |  Issue : 11  |  Page : 609-615

Life style and morbidity profile of geriatric population in an urbans community of Delhi

Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi - 110002, India

Correspondence Address:
A Khokhar
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi - 110002
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 12508634

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How to cite this article:
Khokhar A, Mehra M. Life style and morbidity profile of geriatric population in an urbans community of Delhi. Indian J Med Sci 2001;55:609-15

How to cite this URL:
Khokhar A, Mehra M. Life style and morbidity profile of geriatric population in an urbans community of Delhi. Indian J Med Sci [serial online] 2001 [cited 2016 May 25];55:609-15. Available from:

Never before have so many people lived for so long. [1] Aging previously regarded as emerging trend mainly in the industrial countries is now recognized as a global phenomenon. Life style which -is defined as "the way people live" has shown considerable evidence of being associated with the health of an individual. [2] Many current day problems especially of the geriatric population like hypertension, diabetes mellitus and osteoarthritis are related to nutrition and lifestyle. The concept of pushing morbidity towards the years of older age is becoming increasingly popular and producing god results with promotion of healthy lifestyles and preventive programmes. The success of such programmes is seen mainly - in the western countries. Unfortunately same cannot be said of the developing world. Since, many factors that contribute to decrements of aging and the burden of illness are potentially responsive to preventive interventions it becomes crucial for a country like ours to look into the issue of lifestyle and adopt health promotion measures at large for the geriatric population to ensure better quality of life. Present study was undertaken against this background to explore the lifestyle pattern and morbidity profile of the geriatric population.

 ¤ Materials and Methods Top

The study was carried in an urban community of Vikram Nagar, Located near Ferozshah Kotla Grounds approximately 1 k.m from M.A.M.C. This is Field Health Advisory Practice area of the college. The area was chosen due to it's close proximity to the college.

This residential area consists of migrants who have settled here since partition. Population of this area is approximately 2000. It was a community based cross-sectional study conducted during the year 2000.

All the old people who were more than 60 years of age and residing in this area were included in the study. All the such 128 subjects were interviewed using a structured schedule which consisted of questions pertaining to socio-demographic characteristics morbidity profile and health practices.

Current smokers were defined as all the those who gave the history of smoking at the time of the interview. Those who had given up smoking for more than one year were labeled as ex-­smokers. Similar definitions were used for alcohol and tobacco use.

All the subjects were examined as well. A person was regarded as hypertensive according to the WHO guidelines [3] or if he was already taking antihypertensive therapy. Visual examination was done with torchlight and finger counting. Tuning forks were used to test hearing. Height was measured using a non-stretchable measuring tape and making the subject stand close to the wail. Weight was recorded wearing light clothes with the ordinary weighing scale. Height and weight of 6 of the subjects could not be measured because they were bedridden. All those who were on treatment for diabetes were recorded as diabetics. Anemia was judged clinically only. Obesity was defined as Body Mass Index (B.M.I.) of >30 for males and >28.6 for females. [4]

 ¤ Observations Top

The study population consisted of 89.06% Hindus and 10.93% Sikhs. 80.46% were living in joint families. Literacy level of female respondents was significantly low (45.83%) as compared to males (100%) (p<0.001). Among the women 35.15% were widows as against 28.57% of the men who were widowers. 12.5% of the women were gainfully employed as against 21.42% of men. All the subjects belonged to middle income group (lower, middle, or upper middle). Age group of 65-75 years accounted for over half of the study population [Table 1]. 80% of the population suffered from dental problems. A significantly higher proportion of women (79.61%) suffered from dental problems. A significantly higher proportion of women (79.61%) suffered from problems of joints and locomotion as compared to men (60.71%)(p<0.05). Genito-urinary problems were significantly higher in men (p<0.05) whereas anemia was significantly higher in women (p<0.05). 42.5% of the women and 30.76% of the men were obese. [Table 2]. 19.44% of the women and 14.28% of the men had suffered a fall in the previous one year. Most of the falls were within the house. Smoking for men was mostly in the form of cigarettes and bidis whereas women used Hookah and bidis. None of the women gave history of alcohol intake. Only 9.72% of the women and 10.71 of the men engaged themselves in some physical activity in the form of walking. Only 4.16% of the women and 8.92% of the men practiced yoga and meditation. [Table 3]. 85% of the study population could carry out the activities of daily life. 81.9% of the women and 85.71 % of the men were well adjusted in their families whereas others expressed dis-harmony in getting along cordially with family members. Smoking showed a significant association with hypertension and respiratory tract diseases (p<0.05). Physical inactivity and obesity both showed a statistically significant associaiton with disorders of locomotion and diabetes (p<0.05).

 ¤ Discussion Top

The medical problems reported by the elderly were mainly related to chronic disorders. Geriatric subjects presented with three or four symptoms simultaneously and had two or more diagnoses. Majority of the subjects were in the young elderly group (60-75) years. The research done by I.C.M.R. in its geriatric clinics in India has also produced the same findings. [5] In this study only 15.62% of the subjects mentioned that they had no medical problems whereas in a community survey done by I.C.M.R. this figure was 20%. The possible explanation of which lies in the fact that in the rural areas elderly are mobile for a longer duration because of their main occupation which is agriculture. In this study dental problems were by far the commonest morbidity suffered by the subjects (90.62%) followed by those of locomotion/joints (71.09%), visual impairment (69%), respiratory tract involvement (53%) and hypertension (37.5%). In a similar study done by I.C.M.R. in rural community visual impairment (65%) was the leading morbidity followed by joint involvement (36%), respiratory tract (10%), skin (8.5%), CNS (7.45%) and CVS (6.3%). Vashist el Ai [6] in a study conducted at P.H.C. Rohtak have reported commonest morbidity to be cataract (46.22%) followed by COPD (35.16%) and hypertension (12.45%). Sarkar in a study conducted in an old age home at Calcutta stated the commonest morbidity to be visual loss (96%), arthritis (57%), cataract (51 %) and hypertension (44%).

33.72% of the subjects had suffered a fall in the previous one year. Since most of the falls were within the house one should keep in mind the proper illumination, structure of stairs, bathroom flooring etc. during construction which should be followed up with proper maintenance of the house.

Generally older people consume less alcohol and have fewer alcohol-­related problems as compared to young persons [5] . In this study also only 30.35% of the subjects gave history of current consumption of alcohol. According to WHO older people have usually smoked for longer and continue to be heavy smokers. They are more likely to have chronic diseases with smoking causing further deterioration [5] . In this study 15.62% of the subject were current smokers and smoking was found to have statistically significant associations with hypertension and respiratory tract diseases. Although vast majority of older people are able to remain physically active well into older age even if they do have medical problem, many are healthy enough to undertake various forms of physical activity. But in this study only 10.52% of the subjects involved themselves in physical activity on regular basis. Statistically significant association of physical activity was found with obesity and disorders of locomotion. Since physical activity enhances relaxation, relives stress, depression and increases mental agility along with fostering well being which guarantee independent living and increased ability to cope until late in life, educating the community about the benefits of physical activity will go a long way in improving the quality of life. Sleep pattern which was disturbed in 22.65% of the subjects would also be remedied to some extent by increase in physical activity. Yoga and meditation camps could also be organized at community level periodically. 45.5% of the subjects were non-vegetarians. Since non-vegetarian diet has higher content of saturated fats efforts should be made to make the community aware about harmful and useful aspects of the diet, which they consume. Since life style has an important bearing on the disease outcome it becomes imperative to intervene by the method of primordial prevention so that harmful lifestyle pattern is not adopted by the community and this needs to be further strengthened by screening of the high risk individual and motivating them to adopt a healthy lifestyle so that old age becomes more active and disease free.

 ¤ Summary Top

A cross-sectional study was carried to find out the lifestyle pattern and morbidity profile of geriatrics residing in urban community of Vikram Nagar, Delhi. Women constituted 56.25% and men 43.75% of a total of 128 study subjects. Hindus were 89.06% and Sikhs 10.93%. Age group of 60-75 years accounted for most of the study population. 85% of the subjects complained of one or more health problems. 90.62% of them suffered from dental problems. A significantly higher proportion of women suffered from problems of locomotion/joints and anemia as compared to men whereas genitourinary problems were higher in men as compared to women. 42.55 of the women and 30.76% of the men were obese. Current smokers constituted 15.62% of the women and 30.76% of the men were obese. Current smokers constituted 15.62% of the population whereas 30.35% of the men were current consumers of alcohol. 12.5% used tobacco. As low as 10.15% of the population engaged in regular physical activity. 55.46% of the subjects were vegetarian. 22.65% suffered from disturbed sleep pattern. Smoking showed statistically significant association with hypertension and respiratory tract diseases. Physical activity showed association with obesity and disorder of locomotion. Behavior and lifestyle modification in the form of primordial prevention and counseling of the high risk groups should be carried to improve the quality of life of the aged.[7]

 ¤ References Top

1.UN center for social development and Humanitarian Affairs, Vienna. The World aging situation 1991, NY, UN.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Young People's Health-a challenge for society, World Health Organization Technical Report Series 1986; 731.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Memorandum from a W.H.O./ International society of Hypertension meeting "Guidelines for the treatment of mild Hypertension". Bulletin of World Health Organization 1983;61:53.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Energy and Proteins Requirement, FAO/ WHO/UNO, Technical Report Series 1985; 724.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Darton-Hill I. "Healthy Aging and Quality of Life". World Health Forum 1995;16:335-48.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Vashisht B.M. "Morbidity among elderly at PHC, (Chin district) Rohtale, 1996 at 26th Annual Conference of IAPSM, Surat, 1999.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Sarka N. "A study of morbidity profile of aged people 60 years and above in old age home at Calcutta" 1994-1995 at the Joint Conference of IPHA, 10-12th March 2000.  Back to cited text no. 7    


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]

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