The Role of Social Work Services in Improving the Living Standards of the Elderly in Kuwait an Empirical Study

By Dhafiri, Abdulwahab Mohammad Al- | Education, Winter 2014 | Go to article overview

The Role of Social Work Services in Improving the Living Standards of the Elderly in Kuwait an Empirical Study


Dhafiri, Abdulwahab Mohammad Al-, Education


Introduction

This paper discusses the challenges that the aging population is facing in the 21st century. The rapid transformation of our society will make it more difficult for members of the aging population to maintain healthy lives if their social and health problems are not addressed. Reducing the prevalence of chronic diseases, functional dependence and other associated social problems among the elderly will improve environmental and social conditions and lead to more effective public health measures and advances in medical care.

In Kuwait, little is known about the links among family care capabilities, daily activities, housing and the physical well-being of the elderly (Al-Ghazawi, 1998). This knowledge could help refine policies toward the elderly established by the government. Kuwait is on the right track to meeting the challenges of the aging population; nonetheless, the translation of policies into actions must be closely followed to ensure effective communication among the various agencies and non-governmental organizations. It is crucial to ensure that all resolutions trickle down and are implemented at the grassroots level. These mechanisms of collaboration and communication will help avoid the duplication or under-delivery of services and optimize the utilization of scarce resources for the benefit of the elderly in Kuwaiti society.

In upcoming decades, adults aged 60 and above are expected to represent one-fourth of the population of Kuwait based on the predictions of many demographic experts (Palomino, 1998). This notable increase in the number of elderly people will make the problems, challenges and life uncertainties resulting from the rapid changes in social dynamics an issue that must be addressed at all social levels (Tobin, 1991). This process will require social responsibility, sustainable human development and the integration of all members of society, each according to his ability and in accordance with his requirements and needs (Somiran, 1994). Kuwait should strive to attain a level of social services that preserves human dignity, interests and rights while meeting the needs of all members of society, particularly the elderly (Haddad, 1999).

The importance of the theoretical and practical concerns of the elderly and the important role that social welfare services play in improving their quality of life has attracted researchers to this field. Two major factors are of particular interest. First, the percentage of elderly people in Kuwaiti society is increasing. In 2005, the total Kuwaiti population over the age of 60 was 25, 268, representing 2% of the total population of 1, 333, 327 (Central Statistical Office). By 2010, the number of elderly Kuwaitis had increased to 57, 698, representing 5% of the total population of 1, 148, 363 people in that year. Attention to their needs and care, which they deserve as human beings and not based on pity or charity. A second factor attracting researchers to this field is the importance of social welfare services in providing comfort to the elderly and treating them with respect and appreciation. In this regard, the 2010 annual report of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor indicated that one of the most important objectives of nursing homes is to provide social, psychological, health, rehabilitation, counseling and guidance services to the elderly as well as comfort, assurance, security and the maintenance of their dignity (Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, 2010).

The importance of this study is confirmed by recent research that has measured the role of social welfare services in elderly nursing homes in terms of improvements in the social, psychological and health conditions of the elderly. This recent research has shown that improved conditions for the elderly lead to changes in their outlook on life and quality of life.

The Study Objectives

1. To identify the role of the social welfare services provided by nursing homes in terms of improvements in the meaning and quality of life among the elderly. …

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