Background: Depression and cognitive impairment are two psychosocial health problems significantly affecting the quality of life of older adults across the globe. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of psychosocial morbidities among older adults in a rural community of coastal Karnataka, India, and to determine the socio-demographic correlates of these morbidities.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in rural and semi-urban Udupi taluka, in southern India. A total of 1,832 men and women aged ≥60 years were surveyed from 2015 to 2017 using a simple random method. Data was collected from the participants through an interviewer-administered pre-designed semi-structured questionnaire, Geriatric depression scale-Short version, and Everyday Abilities Scale India, and data were analyzed using SPSS version 26.0. Prevalence of depression and cognitive impairment among the study participants were reported, and significant sociodemographic predictors of these morbidities were determined using multivariate analysis.
Results: Prevalence of depression and cognitive impairment were 38.7% and 49.1%, respectively, among older adults. Low literacy, low socioeconomic status, and unemployment were significant predictors of depression, while only low literacy was found to be the predictor of cognitive impairment. Further, being employed in old age showed a protective effect on their cognitive health.
Conclusion: Psychosocial problems were highly prevalent among community-dwelling older adults. Improving their general health conditions, getting them involved in social activities tailored to their abilities and preferences, and ensuring economic independence through social security measures would pave the way in enhancing the mental health of older adults in southern India.