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Characterization of functional disability among older adults in Ghana: A multi-level analysis of the study on global ageing and adult health (SAGE) Wave II

PLoS One. 2022 Nov 3;17(11):e0277125. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0277125. eCollection 2022.


BACKGROUND: Functional disability is a common public health problem that affects the health and quality of life of older adults. This causes them to be highly dependent on other members of their family, receive home care, or to be institutionalized. Although functional disability has been widely studied in developed country settings, very limited studies have focused on age-related functional disability in sub-Saharan Africa, and in particular Ghana. The purpose of this study is to assess various factors associated with the difficulties in performing basic and instrumental activities of daily living among older adults in Ghana.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study used data on 1610 older adults aged 50 years and above from the Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE) survey Wave II conducted in Ghana. Nine standard functioning difficulty tools of WHODAS II was used for the analysis. The WHODAS II offers continuous summary scores with higher scores showing higher disability, and vice versa. A multi-level regression model was used to identify individual and household level risk factors linked to the functional disability of older adults.

RESULTS: Female older adults (53.7%) reported having functional disability. The mean functional disability among older adults aged 50 years and above was 5.2 (± 5.9). Results indicated that older adults who are females, aged 70 years and above, and had three or more chronic conditions had a higher functional disability. Also, older adults who have adequate fruit intake and belong to wealthier households were found to have a lower functional disability.

CONCLUSIONS: The study reveals that functional disability among older adults is frequent in Ghana and is associated with having three or more chronic conditions and being overweight/obese. Prevention of functional disability in old age in Ghana is therefore a matter of great social and economic concern, which calls for coordinate efforts across the board to mitigate this public health challenge.

PMID:36327337 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0277125

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