Aging populations support for older persons

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Professor Tanusha Raniga, Interim South African Research Chair in Welfare and Social Development , in collaboration with two prominent NGOs, The Association for the Aged (TAFTA) and Ikamva LaBantu, embarked on a research initiative to address the prevalence of elder abuse in South Africa. Older persons are at a high risk of neglect, financial, physical and emotional abuse, poverty, and violent crimes. The primary objective of this project is to identify gaps and strengths in service provision for older persons, thereby contributing to the mitigation of elder abuse within the country.

The research project involved a comprehensive study conducted between April and September 2023, focusing on the various services such as meals and food parcels, health checks, psycho-social support, nurse home visits and occupational therapy provided to older individuals by TAFTA in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Ikamva LaBantu in the Western Cape. By examining these services, the project aimed to gain insights into the challenges faced by older persons and assess the efficacy of existing support structures.

The project was a case study approach focusing on the services provided by TAFTA in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Ikamva LaBantu in the Western Cape. The project utilised a mixed methods approach, combining quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, including surveys and in-depth interviews with older persons. By examining these services, the research team sought to gain valuable insights into the challenges faced by older adults and assess the effectiveness of current support structures.

These activities culminated in the production of two separate research reports, one by TAFTA and another by Ikamva LaBantu. These reports shed light on the strengths and weaknesses within their respective service provision models. The project anticipated several positive outcomes, including increased awareness of elder abuse, improved access to support services for older adults, and a more robust societal effort to safeguard the rights and well-being of older people. Ultimately, older adults stand to benefit from improved care, increased protection from abuse, and better access to resources that meet their specific needs.

The success of this project is a testament to the strong collaborations and partnerships established between Professor Tanusha Raniga, TAFTA, Ikamva LaBantu, and other stakeholders. The symposium hosted by the Chair for Welfare and Social Development at the CSDA in 2024 further exemplifies the ongoing commitment to addressing elder abuse through collaborative efforts.