Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have published a study which finds that people in sub-Saharan Africa are living longer lives. But the study found that many of these older adults experience illness and physical disabilities. The research found that, on average, the physical limitations of a 45-year-old adult in Malawi are comparable to an 80-year-old adult in the United States.
The study found that a 45-year-old women in rural Malawi could be expected to spend 58 percent of their remaining life with functional limitations. For 45-year-old men, 41 percent of their remaining years would include functional limitations.
Colin Payne, a doctoral candidate in demography at the University of Pennsylvania and a co-author of the study states, “Given the strong association of disabilities with work efforts and subjective well-being, this research suggests that current national health policies and international donor-funded health programs for sub-Saharan Africa inadequately target the physical health of mature and older adults.”
The study, “Disability Transitions and Health Expectations Among Adults 45 Years and Older in Malawi: A Cohort-Based Model,” appears in the May issue of the journal PLOS Medicine. The article may be accessed here.