Socioeconomic and health differentials between two community-dwelling oldest-old groups

OBJECTIVE: To identify demographic and socioeconomic differentials associated with the health status of oldest-old individuals living in two cities of different Brazilian regions. METHODS: A comparative and cross-sectional epidemiological study was conducted with the oldest-old (> 80 years), living in the cities of Ribeirão Preto (RP, Southeastern Brazil) and Caxias do Sul (CS, Southern). The probabilistic sample included 117 individuals in CS and 155 in RP, and data were collected between 2007 and 2008. The instrument included demographic and socioeconomic data, Mini-Mental State Examination, Functional Independence Measure, number of self-reported comorbidities and Geriatric Depression Scale. RESULTS: Mean age was similar, with predominance of women (~70%) and widowed individuals (~60%) in both cities. Mean level of education did no differ statistically, although mean income was higher in RP than in CS (p = 0.05). RP showed a higher concentration of individuals in the extreme levels of education and income than that of CS. Mean score of the Mini-Mental State Examination was similar in both groups and higher among men, individuals aged between 80 and 84 years, married and with a higher level of education. Better functional performance was observed in elderly individuals aged between 80 and 84 years in both cities, in those with higher level of education in RP; and in males and married individuals in CS. Elderly individuals in CS showed higher number of comorbidities than those in RP (p < 0.001). Male elderly individuals, married and with -higher income level showed fewer depressive symptoms in both groups; and those in RP showed higher Geriatric Depression Scale score than the others in CS (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Although the oldest old in CS showed lower socioeconomic inequality and fewer depressive symptoms, they also had a higher mean number of comorbidities and lower level of functional independence, when compared to those in RP.

Aged, 80 and over; Depressive Disorder; Comorbidity; Socioeconomic Factors; Cross-Sectional Studies

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