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Malawi Medical Journal
College of Medicine, University of Malawi and Medical Association of Malawi
ISSN: 1995-7262
Vol. 26, No. 4, 2014, pp. 105-108
Bioline Code: mm14022
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Malawi Medical Journal, Vol. 26, No. 4, 2014, pp. 105-108

 en Falls and other geriatric syndromes in Blantyre, Malawi: a community survey of older adults
Allain, T. J.; Mwambelo, M.; Mdolo, T. & Mfune, P.


The prevalence of geriatric syndromes (falls, immobility, intellectual or memory impairment, and incontinence) is unknown in many resource-poor countries. With an aging population such knowledge is essential to develop national policies on the health and social needs of older people. The aim of this study was to provide a preliminary survey to explore the prevalence of falls and other geriatric syndromes and their association with known risk factors in people aged > 60 years in urban Blantyre, Malawi.
This was a cross-sectional, community survey of adults aged > 60 years. Subjects were recruited at home or in the waiting areas of chronic care clinics. They were interviewed to complete a questionnaire on ageassociated syndromes and comorbid problems. The Abbreviated Mental Test (AMT) and Timed Up and Go (TUG) tests were carried out.
Ninety-eight subjects were studied; 41% reported falling in the past 12 months, 33% of whom (13% of all subjects) were recurrent fallers. Twenty-five percent reported urine incontinence, 66% self-reported memory difficulties, and 11% had an AMT score < 7. A history of falling was significantly associated with urine incontinence (p=0.01), selfreported memory problems (p=0.004) and AMT score < 7 (p=0.02).
Geriatric syndromes, including falls, appear to be prevalent in older people in Blantyre, Malawi. Falling is associated with cognitive impairment and urinary incontinence. There is an urgent need for more understanding of geriatric problems in this setting to develop national policies on health and social needs of older people. It is likely that many of the contributory factors to falls would be amenable to multifactorial interventions similar to those found to be effective in developed countries.

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