Factors Influencing Chronic Illnessses Among Older Persons In Kenya
Older people are the fastest growing segment of the population today. Over a period of 50 years between the year 2000 and 2050, the number of older persons is projected to increase from 600 million to over two billion. The ageing of individuals and populations is usually accompanied by a growing burden of age-related, chronic diseases that drastically increase health care costs and mortality levels. In connection to this, the objective of this research project was to assess the health situation of older persons in Kenya with regard to chronic illnesses. The study also sought to determine the factors that influence the chronic illnesses status of older persons. This assessment used the 2005-06 Kenya Integrated Household and Budget Survey (KIHBS) dataset. The analysis of the health situation of older persons in Kenya was done using the following three methods; univariate analysis using frequencies and means to describe the study population and estimate prevalence of chronic illnesses, bivariate analysis using the Chi-square test to identify significant associations between variables, and multivariate analysis using logistic regression to determine variables that have a significant influence on chronic health status. The dependent variable was ‘presence of a chronic illness’ while the independent variables were; sex, age, education, residence, disability status, poverty status, and marital status. From the findings, the health situation of pre-elderly persons (55-59 years) was compared to that of elderly persons. Study findings showed that 17.6 percent of the pre-elderly and 26 percent of the elderly persons were living with chronic illnesses. Their respective mean morbidities (average number of chronic illnesses) were 0.20 and 0.29 for the pre-elderly and elderly persons. Among the elderly, the disability status, sex, age cohort (except 65-69 years), education, and poverty status were found to have a significant influence on their chronic illnesses status. For the pre-elderly, only disability status and sex were found to have a significant influence on chronic illnesses status. Females were found to have a higher prevalence of chronic illnesses among both the pre-elderly and elderly persons. These findings have implications for policy, programmes. Areas for further research were also identified by the study.
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