Overview of the Environment
Overview of the environment under which the elderly are living in
Since the repeal of the discriminatory Old Age Pensions Act the Care of the Older Persons is not yet legislated. Currently older person’s affairs are dealt with in general-under the social welfare assistance act, which also caters also for other vulnerable groups. The Act provides for monthly maintenance allowance which is cash Transfer scheme to enable older person’s access to basic food stuffs. Assistance is also in the form of health assistance, transport assistance for those deceased indigent older persons without relatives to bury them. Older persons staying at old people’s home due to various challenging family problems benefited from monthly allowances, and administration grants from the government.
All older peoples homes are registered by the Department of Social Services and their activities are also supervised by the same office. It is essential that as Zimbabwe realizes complete independence through participation in various economic activities, there must also arise a society that respects and promotes the rights of older persons. The government of Zimbabwe is in the process of finalizing the older person’s bill. The bill seeks to provide holistic care and protection and support of older persons in the country. The Bill demonstrates government’s commitment to among other things create an enabling environment for senior citizens.
The old aged are going through difficult and traumatic times due to the current economic recession the country is going through. The difficult economic times has seen a reduction in the overall support the organization has previously been getting from the corporate sector. Individuals as well who have been fetching far deeper from their pockets are now starved of excess funds and can no longer afford to cheap in and offer assistance.
The economic condition has also seen more people opting for greener pastures in the Diaspora especially in United Kingdom, South Africa, Botswana, Australia and many other countries. The young middle aged groups embarking in this search for greener pastures live their children under the care of grandparents. This ultimately increases duties for elderly people who are actually in need of care and attention in their day to day living.
The impact of HIV and AIDS can not be omitted on issues to do with the elderly. The HIV and AIDS epidemic in Zimbabwe has led to the fruition of households where older persons inherit the care of their grand children and dying parents of these incipient orphans. Older people have had their roles increased to being caregivers of people living with HIV and AIDS, orphaned grand children, relatives and as traditional birth attendees. Children orphaned by HIV and AIDS may also be infected by the disease and therefore need care. Older people mostly find themselves de-facto parents when the sick they are caring for die. In cases where the deceased or sick person was also the breadwinner, it brings further trauma to the older person as they contemplate the future.
Older people also remain the poorest members of society with little or no income to sustain the daily material needs of the sick, orphans and own needs.
In their old age, when they may require support and expect to be looked after, they have to take on the role of caring for others, in most cases without even the basic necessary resources.
Societies generally regard old age as a burden resulting in neglect and little or no attention to their needs.