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S Shahar, J Earland, Abd Rahman S
Correspondence: Dr Suzana Shahar
Aim To evaluate the social and health functions of rural elderly Malays.
Method A survey was carried out on 350 elderly Malays aged 60 and above using a set of socio and health questionnaires.
Results The majority of elderly people in the study were married (64%), unemployed with no pension (76%), relied on children for their main economic resources (62%) and perceived that they have sufficient money to buy the food they require (61%). Most of the subjects felt healthy, contented and satisfied with their everyday life, were able to do most of the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) tasks and were actively involved in community activities. However, most of the subjects (60%) had either one or two diagnosed chronic diseases. Thus, only 15% of the subjects had not taken any type of medicines during the previous 12 months.
Conclusion Although the majority of the elderly in this study were able to perform all the ADL tasks and perceived their health as good, physical impairments (eg. sight, hearing and chewing difficulties) are prevalent and the use of medicines is widespread. It is expected that in future a greater proportion of rural elderly Malays will live alone and will face economic and health problems because of the lack of sufficient and satisfactory programmes for this age group.
Keywords: social, health, elderly, rural, Malays
Singapore Med J 2001; 42(5): 208-213