Assessment of functional disability among a group of slum-dwelling elderly women in Kolkata, West Bengal

The world population has been greying rapidly over the decades that increases the proportion of individuals with deteriorating functional health. It poses greater old-age dependency; and affect quality of life and overall well-being of elderly people. With this backdrop, the present study attempts to understand the burden of aging and associated risk factors on slum-dwelling elderly women of Kolkata. This study included a total of 511 women of age 60 years and above living in slum areas under Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Self-designed schedules were used to obtain the information regarding socio-economic condition, physical activity level and social engagement. Bengali version of General Health Questionnaire-28 was canvassed to evaluate level of psychological distress. Katz and Lawton Activities of Daily Living scales were used to assess functional disabilities in study population.  Results depicts that the prevalence of both basic and instrumental functional disability was higher among the study population, 60.7 and 60.7%, respectively. The prevalence remains high among the elders of age above 80 years. The other potential risk factors related to functional limitations are non-involvement in gainful works, lower level of daily activities and distressed psychological health. The risk of disabilities increases several times due to the combined effect of working status and daily activities for bADL, and psychological health status and age for iADL. Therefore, the study suggests that involvement in daily works and psychological health status helps to mitigate deteriorating functional capabilities in old age.