A model to improve the quality of life for elderly people living in a rural setting of uThungulu District, KwaZulu-Natal
Ndlovu, Busisiwe Adelaide
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Background An increase in the world's population of ageing people is occurring not only in developed countries but also in developing countries. In South Africa, the proportion of the population aged 50 and over increased from 14.8% in 2006 to 15% in 2009 and is predicted to be 19% by 2030. This means that the supply of services for the elderly people should match the demand at all times, otherwise the quality of life of these senior citizens will be compromised. This study aimed at developing a model that would improve the quality of life for elderly people living in the uMhlathuze and uMlalazi sub-districts of the uThungulu district, KwaZulu-Natal. Methodology A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive design was applied for this study. A semi-structured interview guide based on the Health Related Quality of Life Theory and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was used. Random sampling was used to select the elderly participants. Purposive sampling was used for the selection of the chairpersons of non-governmental organisations, and the District Programme Manager. Audits were conducted in the clubs that elderly people with chronic disease participate in. Data analysis followed Tesch’s steps after which themes and categories were formulated. Results Three major themes that emerged from the data analysis were social well-being of elderly people, physiological factors and psychological factors. The results revealed that elderly people experience poor living conditions and suffer poverty due to a number of factors which including the high unemployment rate of their children. Often the children are involved in substance abuse using the elderly person’s money pension money, which leaves them without any food items in the household. According to the District Programme Manager, there was a project on integrated chronic disease management that was conducted at uThungulu district by the Department of Health. The integrated chronic disease management focused on the population in general of all ages, yet in this study the focus has been on elderly people, which is why the researcher developed a model to improve the QoL of elderly people, due to their unique needs. Conclusion This research study gathered information regarding social, economic, health and environmental factors in rural areas which will help in bringing issues of elderly people’s quality of life to awareness. This research will deepen the knowledge and skills of professionals on ageing issues, especially in rural areas/communities.