A door to door field-survey was conducted in two villages by a team of psychiatrists with the aim of assessing the mental morbidity of the population. The present communication is restricted to the mental morbidity of the elderly population aged 60 years and above. The total sample comprised 183 persons (male 85, female 98). Majority of the families (44.2%) belonged to class IV according to Pareek and Trivedi's scale. Sixty one percent of the elderly population was mentally ill. Women had a higher rate of morbidity than men (77.6 % and 42.4 % repetitively). The overwhelming majority of the affected persons were depressives. Rate of dementia was low. Key Words: Field-survey, elderly population, psychiatric morbidity, rural community The number of elderly people is growing very fast in both developed and developing countries. The fall in the birth rate and rising life expectancy are the two main factors behind this unprecedented growth of the grey sector of human society. The rapid change in social structure and in traditional value system will have a tremendous impact on the well being of these senior citizens as well as on the equilibrium of the society itself. Against this backdrop it is reasonable to expect that the mental health problem of the elderly will grow more in the years to come. The western response to this task was expressed as a spurt in research activities in different aspects of psychiatry of old age. The development of screening instrument of detection of cognitive impairment in old age was an early effort in this direction. In1975, Folsteinand his associates published the 'Mini Mental State' a practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinicians (Folstein et al., 1975).Further refinement and standardisation of screening scale followed in eighties (Yesavage et al., 1983; Roth et al., 1986). Copeland et al. (1986) came up with a computerised diagnostic system and case nomenclature for elderly subjects and thereby improved the objectivity and comparability of studies in this area. Simultaneously epidemiological studies were undertaken to assess the pattern and extent of mental morbidity in the elderly (Blazer and Williams,1980; Copeland et al.
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