Gendered prevalence of non-communicable diseases in India’s older adults

Rapid advancements in medicine and falling fertility rates have contributed to the rise in the population of India’s older adults in recent decades. This demographic and epidemiological shift has a gendered impact: A higher proportion of women over the age of 60, compared to their male counterparts, suffer from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, heart and bone diseases, cancers, cognitive decline, and depression. The current prevalence rate for older adult women is 62 per 1,000; for men, it is 36 per 1,000. This paper utilises a narrative literature review to explore the disparity, and finds among others that traditional gendered roles and socioeconomic inequities contribute to elderly women’s higher predisposition to NCDs. The paper employs data from the first round of the Longitudinal Ageing Study India (2017-18) and makes a policy case for a gender- and age-responsive health system for older adult women.