Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Are Things Really So Different? A Research Finding of Satisfaction, Illness and Depression in Rural South African Elderly

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Are Things Really So Different? A Research Finding of Satisfaction, Illness and Depression in Rural South African Elderly

Article excerpt

Abstract: This study was conducted as a part of a larger study to create a database to describe elderly respondents residing in a rural South African community. The participants reported on their perceptions of social support, satisfaction, and illness in relationship to depression. There was a correlation between social support and satisfaction (r 048502, p=. 0001). Depression was not found to be a significant health problem in this elderly population. However, there were correlations between hypertension and depression noted (r =. 57901, p =. 0001).

Keywords: Elderly, satisfaction, pension, depression and hypertension.

For the past decade, quality of life changes have been implemented to improve the lives of elderly blacks in rural South Africa. The elderly in South Africa have lived to see the abolishment of apartheid and the promise of a better and just future for blacks. An objective of the post apartheid government, The African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 was to dedicate itself to achieving equality of health services, education, sanitation and eligibility requirements for pension benefits between whites and Africans. Initiatives have sprung forth such as the placement of electricity, water, telephone lines into rural areas and increases in governmental pensions for the elderly. However, in the year 2001 rural elders still live in poverty, with many unable to afford telephone and electricity cost. Are things really so different?

According to Moller & Sotshongaye (1996), gaining access to pensions confirmed elder status and represented an important milestone in the lives of elderly South Africans. However, due to increasing unemployment of young black Africans, migrant jobs and HIV/AIDS, many elders find themselves living in multigenerational homes with family members dependent on their pensions for survival. According to Duflo (2000) the majorities of pension-receiving families are impoverished and live in rural areas headed by a grandparent due to the absence of the child's mother and/or father. Because of the low socioeconomic status and minimal job opportunities in these communities, these areas consist of many informal housing settlements where families live in substandard overcrowded conditions, many without heat, running water, indoor toileting and plumbing and electricity. According to Amoateng (1997), 43% of these households consist of six or more family members, living in one or two rooms.


The global targets recommended by The World Health Organization (WHO) to achieve health for all by 2020, included several goals applicable to the elderly. The first is that all countries will have introduced, and be actively managing and monitoring, strategies that will strengthen health enhancing lifestyles and weaken health-damaging ones, through a combination of regulatory, economic, educational, organizational and community based programs. Secondly, all people will have access throughout their lives to comprehensive, essential quality health care, supported by essential public health function (South African Health review, 1998). A recent author, (Duflo, 2000) found in a South African study that an estimated 1/3 of children less than five years of age are living with a pension recipient. As the number of care giving grandparents increase, awareness of the need of individuals in this group is increasing. Elders are assuming parental roles, which may be creating other adjustment problems. When the elderly assume caregiver role of young children they also assume financial stress and lack of living space to accommodate the children and special childhood problems (Kelly, 1993). It is easy to assume that these new roles lead to strains on the elderly in that: they must adapt to changes in social norms and acceptable behavioral standards. Elders must also deal with their mortality because they may not live long enough to assist the children into adulthood. The fear of what will happen to the child if they die or become unable to provide care can seriously aggravate caregiver's stress (Kelly, 1993). …

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