[Demographic and socioeconomic factors associated with needs for home assistance among community-dwelling elderly: a study from the French Home Survey Handicaps-Disabilities-Dependence]

B Davin, A Paraponaris, P Verger
Revue D'épidémiologie et de Santé Publique 2005, 53 (5): 509-24

BACKGROUND: Gains in life expectancy in western countries have mainly come hand in hand with growing chronic diseases and disabilities related to the activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). Although these disabilities have been identified as predictors of institutionalization, the elderly in France continue to live at home, in the community, alone or with others. This work aims at identifying and assessing their needs for assistance and looks especially at the demographic and socioeconomic associated features.

METHODS: Reported needs for assistance with ADL and IADL are studied through a representative sample of 8,745 people aged 60 years and older and living at home in 1999, taken from the French cross-sectional "Handicaps-Disabilities-Dependence" survey. Statistical associations (non-adjusted and adjusted Odds-Ratio-OR) have been computed in a conceptual framework derived from Andersen and Newman's behavioural model.

RESULTS: More than 1 million people aged 60 years and older need assistance from another person to perform at least one ADL (bathing, dressing, going to toilet, eating, transferring, getting outside) and about 2.5 millions persons for at least one IADL (shopping, food preparation, housekeeping). Need for assistance for at least one ADL is associated with age (OR=1.4 for 70-79, 3.6 for 80+); male aged 80 and older (OR=0.5); low educational status (OR=1.5); being married (OR=1.7) or living with an other person (OR=2); a disposable income less than 540 euro per capita and per month or between 540 and 1,080 euro (OR=1.3); impairments: motor (OR=3), language (OR=2.1), visual (OR=1.7), mental (OR=1.5) and other (OR=1.2); availability of home equipment devices (OR=3.5), technical devices for moving inside (OR=3) and others (OR=2.1). Need for assistance is especially high among those who required assistance (OR=4) or proxies (OR=5.5) to answer. Declared need for assistance for at least one IADL is roughly associated with the same factors.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the declared needs for human assistance are based not exclusively on functional limitations but are also related to the social and environmental setting.

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