The social support systems and quality of life indicators of Jewish seniors living in Milnerton and surrounds

Parton, S. (2007-12)

Thesis (M Social Work (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


The motivation for this research study was the lack of available literature on Jewish seniors and the social support systems which enabled independent living. The aim of this research study is to provide guidelines for social work intervention with Jewish seniors by gaining a better understanding of the social support systems which promote the quality of their lives and independent living. To this end, both quantitative and qualitative research approaches were used. The research design was a non-experimental design using a survey research strategy. The knowledge purpose of the research design was exploratory/descriptive. The literature study gives an overview of demographic trends with special emphasis on population ageing and its influence on social policy and legislation within the South African context. In addition to describing the quality of life indicators and well-being in the older person, the literature study seeks to identify and describe the function of social support systems from a systems theory approach. This small scale social survey used a simple random sample of 30 Jewish seniors who were aged 60 years and above. The response rate was 80%. All were members of a volunteer-based community centre, Cape Jewish Seniors Association, Milnerton. The research instrument was a face to face interview using both closed and open ended questions. All but one interview took place in the participants’ homes. The results of the survey showed that the majority of Jewish seniors have matriculated and were financially independent. Most owned their own homes and were satisfied with their living arrangements. The majority of seniors lived independently and did not want to live with their children. Business/financial reasons and traumatic events were reasons for moving from an area while family and downsizing were reasons for moving to an area (push/pull factors). Most aged in place. Women outnumbered men and change in marital status was linked to increasing age. The majority of the participants enjoyed a high degree of social contact with, family and friends. The primary and secondary support systems of Jewish seniors and types of social support, showed few disparities to findings in the literature study. Most seniors did not use formal support systems. Financial independence, involvement in community organisations and having good health were perceived as enabling older persons to live independently within the community. Being very active in organisations, ageing in place and ownership of property are determinants of a very good quality of life. Having a state pension, widowhood and advancing age are factors that have the most negative impact on the older person’s quality of life. In light of the above, it is recommended that social work interventions with older persons take cognisance of the following: social participation in civic organisations vs. social isolation; ageing in place vs. long distance migration; financial independence vs. state pension grant; the marital status and age of the older person. As there is limited data on Jewish seniors, it is recommended that a national social survey of the Jewish senior population is undertaken.

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