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Title: The caring practices, coping mechanisms and learning experiences of elderly caregivers of adolescent AIDS orphans in one residential area in Harare : implications for adult education in Zimbabwe
Authors: Paradzai, Angeline 
Keywords: Adult education;Caregivers;Aids ophans;Learning experiences;Adolescents
Issue Date: 9-Aug-2023
Recent studies (Kidman and Thurman 2014; Zvinavashe et al. 2015) have established caregiving
in an HIV/AIDS context as a burden; however, the caring practices, coping mechanisms and
learning experiences of the elderly caregivers of adolescent AIDS orphans have not been well
documented. Being an elderly caregiver in this situation brings difficulties as far as the whole
caring for an adolescent is concerned (Omotoso 2007; Zaky 2016).
This phenomenology research, whose dictates derive from the interpretivist paradigm and the
qualitative approach, drew on a sample of twenty elderly caregivers. Snowball sampling, a
subdivision of the purposive sampling method, within the non-probability type of sampling, was
adopted. The study implemented a qualitative approach, where in-depth one-on-one interviews,
observations of the home environments and focus group discussions were used for data generation.
Data analysis utilised the six steps of Creswell (2014). Transformative Learning Theory (TLT)
(Mezirow 2009), as well as the three models of the Transactional Model of Stress and Coping
(TMSC) (Lazarus and Folkman 1984) were the theoretical lenses embraced for the study.
With regard to the nature of caring practice what emerged was that the process involved nurturing
character development of the orphans. Approaches for character development were modelling
adolescent behaviour, talking to and working with them, task delegation, and encouraging church
attendance, among others. Provision of basic needs such as food, shelter, school fees and assistance
from extended families were also evident as additional caring practices. Challenges faced in the
caring practices were of a social, financial and psychological nature. In terms of coping, the more
pronounced approaches were problem-centred and emotion-centred coping, with maladaptive
coping having been minimally utilised. Coping strategies involved seeking counselling, cutting
meal sizes and frequencies of eating the meals, and assistance from their extended families. The
elderly carers indicated deficiencies in knowledge of how to look after adolescent AIDS orphans
and, also, the resources to use during their care.
The new insights emerging from the study were that caring was age-sensitive and collaborative,
bringing caregiver, clinic, school, community and extended family together. Elderly caregivers are
now bound by the legal orientation in orphan care. Ways of knowing about these insights by the
participants were primarily experiential – that is, learning as the processes unfolded. Nevertheless,
print and electronic media, and observation also emerged. Educational implications are drawn on
a number of issues, such as the need to conscientise caregivers on legal requirements, modern ways
of child rearing, imparting entrepreneurial skills as the caregivers had no regular incomes and
caregiving in a traditional thoughtful manner.
The elderly caregivers went through eight of the ten stages of the Mezirow theory in their learning,
leaving out stages three and four which deal with a sense of alienation and relating discontent to
others respectively. Not experiencing these two stages may be attributed to stigma and
discrimination often associated with HIV/AIDS issues, so they were less likely to disclose their
concerns as a means of further learning.
Elderly caregivers seemed to lack information on caring for the young in view of AIDS, as well
as material resources. Failures of caregivers to join relevant groups like support groups seem to
suggest denial of the HIV/AIDS situation they find themselves in. It is recommended that adult
educational programmes be designed to reduce stigma and discrimination among the elderly living
in HIV/AIDS circumstances
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education at the Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2023.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Arts and Design)

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