Developing regions of the world host the majority of elderly subjects who are at risk for dementia. Reliable epidemiological data from these countries is invaluable in tackling this global problem. Scarcity of such data in literature is largely attributable to problems that are unique to developing communities worldwide.
To classify and describe the problems that interfere with the collection of reliable epidemiological data on cognitive impairment in the elderly in developing communities, and to suggest practical solutions for some of them.
Inferring from the experiences of a large, ongoing, population-based study on the cognitive impairments in the elderly in South India and from the review of literature.
A fatalistic attitude regarding aging in the communities, significant heterogeneity in educational abilities and activities of daily living, high illiteracy among rural subjects, and lack of an organized health care system and updated demographic figures are some of the major factors that contribute to technical, namely, methodology-related problems and practical, namely, subject-related problems in such epidemiological studies.