In Africa, older persons, especially older women, are in charge of taking care of the orphaned children and the chronically ill. Most of the time, they are the only healthy ones in the community strong enough to take on this task. However, they sometimes lack the physical strength or the medical knowledge.
Older women in Africa are also secondary caregivers. They are the ones willing to go to visit the sick and frail people in their community. However the expectations of the patients are higher that what these older women can offer. The sick want food, medication, water. At the same time, older women themselves face major difficulties. They are poor and uncompensated for their time and effort older women can easily fall into debt as their meager pension is not sufficient to support their adult children and grandchildren. They do not receive any support from their national or local government. They sometimes lack the appropriate identification papers to receive social pensions when available and are denied property rights.
However, some positive developments are also taking place in the area. Women are brought together and share knowledge and hope. They also benefit from small loans, which allow them to buy a goat or seeds for producing vegetables. Older women create their own income by sewing uniforms or cooking.
In Africa, some schools provide one meal a day for children. Grandmothers and their grandchildren join the school to enjoy a meal as well.
Older women cooking for the family
Dr. Thomas Kalindi related the story of an older woman in her 60’s. In Bombay, India, she had heart surgery and got infected by HIV/AIDS through a blood transfusion. Her family did not want people to know about the situation and did not want to keep her at home. They brought her to a mission Hospital where her sons cared for her. However, the daughters-in-law or grandchildren never came to see her. They felt shame and were frightened. This example shows the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS in this region.