As ageing is an upcoming issue in low-income countries, an increase in the prevalence of functional disability among older citizens is expected, paralleled with increase dependence on familial support.
The study examines the occurrence of functional disabilities among older people in a low-income setting and its association with individual familial support.
Data were gathered from a sample of 136 patients aged 60+ years attending a tertiary healthcare hospital in Islamabad. Assessments of functional disability (ADL and IADL) and familial support were made using a standardised questionnaire. Disability (yes/no) was assessed for each of 15 functional disability items. Thereafter, the association between disability (on any item) and each (also dichotomised) component of three dimensions of familial support (instrumental; social and emotional) was measured using Fisher exact test (a total of 15 components). 69% of the subjects qualified as disabled. Disability was more common in IADL than ADL activities. There was a significant difference between disabled and non-disabled persons as regards several forms of instrumental support they received, to the benefit of the disabled. There was not much difference in social and emotional support. The fact of being disabled seems to be associated with individual sociodemographic status, to the detriment of women, illiterate and non earners.
Disability is prevalent among older people in Pakistan, occurs at an early age and is associated with the familial support received, particularly instrumental support. There is a need to understand these associations better to allow older people to realise their healthy life potential.
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