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Research Article

Health status and quality of life among older adults in rural Tanzania



Abstract

BackgroundIncreasingly, human populations throughout the world are living longer and this trend is developing in sub-Saharan Africa. In developing African countries such as Tanzania, this demographic phenomenon is taking place against a background of poverty and poor health conditions. There has been limited research on how this process of ageing impacts upon the health of older people within such low-income settings.ObjectiveThe objective of this study is to describe the impacts of ageing on the health status, quality of life and well-being of older people in a rural population of Tanzania.Design A short version of the WHO Survey on Adult Health and Global Ageing questionnaire was used to collect information on the health status, quality of life and well-being of older adults living in Ifakara Health and Demographic Surveillance System, Tanzania, during early 2007. Questionnaires were administered through this framework to 8,206 people aged 50 and over.ResultsAmong people aged 50 and over, having good quality of life and health status was significantly associated with being male, married and not being among the oldest old. Functional ability assessment was associated with age, with people reporting more difficulty in performing routine activities as age increased, particularly among women. Reports of good quality of life and well-being decreased with increasing age. Women were significantly more likely to report poor quality of life (odds ratio 1.31; p<0.001, 95% CI 1.15–1.50).ConclusionsOlder people within this rural Tanzanian setting reported that the ageing process had significant impacts on their health status, quality of life and physical ability. Poor quality of life and well-being, and poor health status in older people were significantly associated with marital status, sex, age and level of education. The process of ageing in this setting is challenging and raises public health concerns.


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