Elderly carers: the experiences of the elderly caring for orphans and vulnerable children in the context of the HIV/Aids epidemic in Chiradzuru district, Malawi
Kachale, B. (2015) Elderly carers: the experiences of the elderly caring for orphans and vulnerable children in the context of the HIV/Aids epidemic in Chiradzuru district, Malawi, no. 358.
PURPOSE: This qualitative study explores the day-to-day care experiences and livelihoods challenges of the elderly carers of orphan and vulnerable children (OVCs) in rural Chiradzuru district in Malawi. The study aims to highlight the impact of AIDS mortality on Elderly Households' livelihood assets. METHOD: Using case study approach data was collected from 43 cases comprised of 23 individuals and 3 Focus Groups. The main study participants were elderly-headed households caring for OVCs. Data was collected and the evidence converged using the Sustainable Livelihood Framework (SLF) to analyse findings. FINDINGS: The main ten study participants were between the ages 55-90+ caring for thirty-eight OVCs; seven of whom were single females caring for OVCs aged between 2-16 years old-some of them caring for second generation of orphans(great grandchildren). Although this is crisis-led fostering, most of the elderly have accepted the responsibility regardless of their capabilities. This highlights the value of family based care in these families. Six of the ten elderly carers had lost a significant number of assets to AIDS sickness and death of family members. A few had given up their wage earning livelihoods to care for OVCs while for the very old (71-90) their physical old-age disabilities affected pursuance of livelihoods impacting their food security and acquisition of basic needs. There was mutual reciprocity between the OVCs and their carers to pursue livelihoods which increased household resilience. Conclusion: The elderly in Chiradzuru need social security support so that they must not give up care of their children to alternative care arrangements which can contribute to trauma on OVCs.