The health status of the elderly receiving an old age pension in urban communities in the City of Cape Town

Govender, Thashlin (2012-12)

Thesis (MSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In developing countries the increasing number of the aged are often viewed as a problem. In particular, the indigent elderly residing in poor urban areas are at risk of becoming marginalised and underserved. The Western Cape has the third largest elderly population in proportion to the total population in the country. Social assistance in the form of a monthly pension is paid out to all elderly who pass a national means test carried out by South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). An assessment of the characteristics and health status of the elderly collecting old age pensions living in low-income urban poor communities in the City of Cape Town was carried out at pension pay points across four communities, i.e. Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Bonteheuwel. In community health surveys, choices regarding the methodology have to be made that can have profound effects on the study design and study outcomes. The milieu of the present study is one of urban poverty and specifically those urban elderly who qualify for non-contributory pensions (also called social cash transfers or government grants). The paucity of existing community-based studies on old-age pensioners in the City of Cape Town meant that a cross-sectional survey with wide-ranging coverage of demographic, social and health factors was the most logical design to employ in order to determine the extent of present needs and generate hypotheses for further controlled studies. A systematic random sample of 703 elderly was drawn at nine pension pay-out points in Cape Town Metropole. No pensioners refused to participate in the study. Structured interviews were carried out covering demographics, number of dependents, living conditions, socioeconomic circumstances, health status and needs and utilisation of health services. A reported 43% of participants lived in shacks and 88% reported regularly eating less than 3 meals a day. Eighty-seven percent of respondents reported waiting 3 hours or longer for medication at a clinic while 90% reported being dissatisfied with the service at their clinic. Fifty-eight percent of pensioners reported not being able to see well while 83% did not know where to get their eyes tested. Almost 70% of pensioners said that they have been ill-treated by a family member and 64% scored as severely depressed on the geriatric depression scale. In this study, 266 pensioners solely supported 471 children of which 65 (14%) were disabled children. In 95% of cases the pensioner does not receive any support from the child's parents. The study found that the elderly on a state grant had considerable unmet health needs and required assistance with activities of daily living. The indigent pensioners in this study bore a huge duty of care for minor children as custodial grandparents while not receiving a high level of health support themselves.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die toenemende aantal bejaardes word dikwels in ontwikkelende lande as 'n probleem gesien. In die besonder loop die bejaardes wat in lae-inkomste stedelike gebiede woon die risiko om gemarginaliseer te word en swak dienslewering te ondervind. Die Wes-Kaap het die derde grootste populasie van bejaardes in verhouding tot die totale bevolking in die provinsie. Sosiale bystand in die vorm van 'n maandelikse pensioen word betaal aan alle bejaardes wat die inkomstetoets slaag wat deur die Suid-Afrikaanse Agentskap vir Maatskaplike Sekerheid (SAAMS) uitgevoer word. 'n Ondersoek na die eienskappe en gesondheidstatus van bejaardes wat hulle ouderdomspensioene in lae-inkomste stedelike gemeenskappe in die Stad Kaapstad kom afhaal is uitgevoer. Die studie is gedoen by pensioen-uitbetaalpunte in vier gemeenskappe, naamlik Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plein and Bonteheuwel. In gemeenskapsgesondheid-opnames moet keuses gemaak word ten opsigte van die metodologie wat diepgaande gevolge vir die studieontwerp en -uitkomste kan inhou. Die milieu van die huidige studie in dié van stedelike armoede en spesifiek die leefruimte van stedelike bejaardes wat kwalifiseer vir nie-bydraende pensioene (ook genoem sosiale kontantoordragte of staatstoelaes). Die gebrek aan bestaande studies van ouderdomspensioenarisse in Kaapstad het beteken dat 'n dwarsdeursnit-opname van die demografie, sosiale en gesondheidsfaktore die mees logiese ontwerp was om uit te voer. Dit is gedoen om die omvang van huidige behoeftes te bepaal en verdere hipoteses te genereer wat deur vergelykende studies ondersoek behoort te word. 'n Stelselmatige ewekansige steekproef van 703 bejaardes is getrek by nege betaalpunte in die Kaapse stadsgebied. Geen proefpersone het geweier om deel te neem nie. Gestruktureerde onderhoude is gevoer wat die volgende aspekte gedek het: demografiese eienskappe, aantal afhanklikes, gesondheidstatus en benutting van gesondheidsdienste. Van die deelnemers het 43% in informele behuising ("shacks") gewoon en 88% het gerapporteer dat hulle gereeld minder as 3 daaglikse maaltye eet. Daar het 87% gerapporteer dat hulle 3 uur of langer gewag het om medikasie by hulle plaaslike kliniek te ontvang terwyl 90% ontevrede was met die diens wat hulle by die kliniek ontvang het. Daar het 58% van die bejaardes gerapporteer dat hulle nie goed kan sien nie terwyl 83% van hulle nie geweet het waar hulle hulle oë kan laat toets nie. Omtrent 70% van bejaardes het gesê dat hulle deur 'n familielid mishandel word en 64% kon as ernstig depressief geklassifiseer word op die geriatriese depressieskaal. In hierdie studie was 266 pensioenarisse die enigste sorg en voog van 471 kinders van wie 65 (14%) gestremd was. In 95% van gevalle het die pensionaris geen geldelike of ander bydraes van die kind(ers) se ouers ontvang nie. Die studie het bevind dat bejaardes wat 'n staatstoelaag ontvang aansienlike onvervulde gesondheidsbehoeftes het en hulp benodig met aktiwiteite van daaglikse bestaan. Die behoeftige pensioenarisse in hierdie studie het 'n groot las gedra aan die versorging van minderjarige kinders as toesighoudende grootouers ("custodial grandparents") terwyl hulleself nie 'n hoë vlak van ondersteuning geniet nie.

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