One of the sustainable development goals’ (SDGs) primary goals (Goal 3) is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for persons of all ages. While extensive literature documents the link between physical frailty and low life satisfaction (LLS) among older adults, research of this nature is limited within low and middle-income countries including India. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between physical frailty and life satisfaction among community-dwelling older men and women in India.
Data come from the 2017–18 wave 1 of the Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI), with a sample of 30 390 individuals aged 60 and above (14 559 men and 15 831 women). Physical frailty was assessed using an adapted version of the frailty phenotype developed by Fried and colleagues. Ordered logistic regression models are employed to examine the association between physical frailty and life satisfaction.
The prevalence of frailty was higher in older women than men (32.2% vs. 27.5%). Nearly 30.4% of men and 33.8% of women reported having LLS. However, after adjusting for the selected confounders, women were less likely (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 0.92; CI: 0.87–0.97) to report LLS compared to men. The physically frail older adults were more likely (aOR: 1.40; CI: 1.27–1.55) to report LLS relative to their physically stronger counterparts. Moreover, we found that frail older men had higher odds of reporting LLS than non-frail older men (aOR: 1.25; CI: 1.09–1.43). Also, non-frail older women had lower odds of reporting LLS than non-frail older men (aOR: 0.80; CI: 0.67–0.95).
Findings of our study suggest that policies and programs to address later life well-being need to consider gender differences. Doing so would not only help identify older adults most at risk of LLS, but gender differentiated policies would help streamline health expenditures and costs typically relegated to assist all older adults without proper focus on the uniqueness of their social location.