Objectives: The objective of this study is to analyze the degree to which care needs are met in an aging rural African population. Method: Using data from the Health and Aging in Africa: Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community (HAALSI) baseline survey, which interviewed 5,059 adults aged older than 40 years in rural South Africa, we assessed the levels of limitations in activities of daily living (ADLs) and in unmet care for these ADLs, and evaluated their association with sociodemographic and health characteristics. Results: ADL impairment was reported by 12.2% of respondents, with the proportion increasing with age. Among those with ADL impairment, 23.9% reported an unmet need and 51.4% more a partially met need. Relatives provided help most often; formal care provision was rare. Unmet needs were more frequent among younger people and women, and were associated with physical and cognitive deficits, but not income or household size. Discussion: Unmet care needs in rural South Africa are often found among individuals less expected to require care.
Keywords: comorbidities; disability; gender; socioeconomic status.