Medical and mental disorders in elderly patients seen at the outpatients' clinic of a teaching hospital in Eastern Nigeria - prevalance and sociodemographic characteristics

  • Richard Uwakwe Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, Nigeria
  • Ifeoma Modeba


Aim: To describe the medical and mental disorders in elderly patients seen at the medical outpatients' clinic of Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital Nnewi.

Method: Records of all elderly patients aged 60 years and above that were seen for the first time at the (internal) medical outpatient clinic between February 1997 and February 1999 were examined. Sociodemographic and diagnostic characteristics of the patients were obtained.

Results: elderly patients constituted 11.2% of all the 7892 patients seen in the clinic during the study period. The male: female ratio was 1.5:1. Forty-one patients had more than one disease occurring in an individual. Cardiovascular diseases were the commonest occurring medical problems; degenerative, neoplastic and infectious diseases were also common. Mental disorders were diagnosed in only 2% of the patients with one case of Alzheimer's disease. No patient with mental disorder was given any second medical diagnosis nor referred for psychiatric opinion.

Conclusion: Elderly Nigerians probably have high rates of old age associated diseases (degenerative and neoplastic) with tropical infections. Recorded (diagnosed) mental disorders were low, reflecting possible under-diagnosis/under-recognition. Medical and mental health of the elderly must be properly integrated.

Orient Journal of Medicine Vol. 18(1&2) 2006: 35-42

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eISSN: 1115-0521