The prevalence of disability in elderly in India – Analysis of 2011 census data

Banurekha Velayutham, Boopathi Kangusamy, M.Sc., M.B.A., Vasna Joshua, Ph.D., Sanjay Mehendale, M.D., M.P.H.

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 9, Issue 4
Published online: April 13, 2016



Advancing age leads to physical and sensory impairment with varying degrees of disability. There is lack of publication focusing on disability of elderly in India with a countrywide state-based analysis of all types of disabilities.


To measure the prevalence of disability and describe the types of disability in the elderly Indian population by gender, advancing age, states and geographical regions.


The 2011 Census cross-sectional survey data restricted to elderly in India was analyzed. ‘Elderly’ is defined as a person who is of age 60 years or above. Disability rates per 100,000 elderly population and age-adjusted disability rates were calculated.


A total of 5,376,205 elderly individuals were disabled in India in 2011; disability rate of 5178 per 100,000 elderly population. Movement and seeing disabilities individually accounted for 25% of total disabilities and disability in hearing was 19%. Disability rates in 17 Indian States and Union Territories were above the national average. Disability rates increased as age advanced with the highest disability rate of 8409 per 100,000 among people aged 80 yrs or above. The disability rates were higher in males than females (5314 vs. 5045 per 100,000) and in rural compared to urban areas (5593 vs. 4181 per 100,000). Currently married and working populations had lower disability rates.


One in every twenty Indian citizens aged 60 yrs and above is either physically or mentally disabled. Identification of the underlying causes, employing effective and focused preventive strategies will help to reduce the prevalence of disability in the elderly.