The health status and the prevalence of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, glaucoma and visual disorders of 123 elderly people (56 men, 67 women) in the Marigot Health District, Dominica, were assessed by means of four questionnaires, collection of data from their medical records; physical examination, measurement of blood pressure, visual acuity and intra-ocular pressure (IOP); and testing for glucosuria. The overall health status was good, but 20% were dependent on care. 74% were independent in the activities in daily life, with only moderate limitations in activities. The health status decreased considerably in those over 75 years of age. There were slight perceived differences in health status between men and women. About 40% of the study population were known to be hypertensive, and another 13% had an elevated blood pressure on examination. Diabetes mellitus was present in 15%. 20% had a visual acuity of 0.1 or below, and 10% had an elevated IOP. During the study, a considerable number of new cases of hypertension, diabetes mellitus and elevated IOP were diagnosed. 50% of the study population who were on medication used this more than as prescribed. This study indicates a high prevalence of the secondary complications of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cataract, glaucoma and osteo-arthritis that cause disability and dependency in the elderly population. Education, diagnosis at an early stage and appropriate treatment of these disorders may prevent or delay their development. We sugggest the development of a programme oriented approach of primary health care for the elderly to support this.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||West Indian Medical Journal|
|Publication status||Published - Jun-1999|