Disability among Older People: Analysis of Data from Disability Surveys in Six Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 29;18(13):6962. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18136962.


This analysis of surveys from six low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) aimed to (i) estimate the prevalence of disability among older adults and (ii) compare experiences and participation in key life areas among older people with and without disabilities which may show vulnerability during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were analysed from district-level or national surveys in Cameroon, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Nepal and the Maldives, which across the six databases totalled 3499 participants aged 60 years and above including 691 people with disabilities. Disability was common among adults 60+, ranging from 9.7% (8.0-11.8) in Nepal to 39.2% in India (95% CI 34.1-44.5%). Mobility was the most commonly reported functional difficulty. In each setting, older people with disabilities were significantly less likely to be working and reported greater participation restrictions and environmental barriers in key life areas compared to people in the same age categories without disabilities (p < 0.05). Disability is common in this population, and older people with disabilities may have greater difficulties participating in COVID-19 responses and have high economic vulnerabilities. It is imperative to prioritise the needs of older people with disabilities in the COVID-19 pandemic, including ensuring accessibility of both health services and the community in general.

Keywords: COVID-19; disability; older adults; participation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Cameroon
  • Developing Countries
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Indian Ocean Islands
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2