The HIV epidemic in South Africa has placed a substantial burden on elderly caregivers, mainly women, who are often tasked with caring for their grandchildren who are orphaned and rendered vulnerable by the death or illness of their parents. The Medical Research Council (MRC), Age-in-Action, and the Horizons Program conducted formative research, as described in this research summary, to assess the needs of elderly caregivers in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa in 2005. The investigations revealed that elderly caregivers faced a number of challenges including difficulty communicating with youth, fears and a sense of hopelessness around matters regarding youth, barriers to accessing health care, insufficient funds to cover basic needs, and difficulty accessing social service grants. Based on these findings, Horizons, MRC, and Age-in-Action developed an intervention study to explore and test whether a health education program would effectively lead to: 1) Improved care and support provided by elderly caregivers; 2) Improved psychosocial outcomes for the caregivers themselves; and 3) Increased capacity on the part of health service providers to enhance the care they provide to the elderly.
Reddy, Priscilla, Shegs James, H. Mutumba Bilay-Boon, Eka Esu-Williams, and Hena Khan. 2009. "Pilot community-based intervention to address the needs of elderly caregivers in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa," Horizons Research Summary. Washington, DC: Population Council.