An assessment of residual and social networks of active aged: a case study of Werugha location in Taita Taveta County
The purpose of this study was to assess the residual and social networks of active aged in Kenya. The target population included all the active elderly people in two sub locations (Mlondo sub location ~d Marumange sub location) ofWerugha Location.The study adopted descriptive research study design. Snowballing sampling technique was used in selection of study respondents. Six key informants were used to supplement the study findings. To complement each other, both questionnaire and in-depth interviews were used as key data collection instruments. The raw data from the field was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and MS excel. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used in interpretation of findings. Here the main descriptive tools were; frequencies, percentages and inferential statistics. The study revealed that most of the elderly people were visited impromptu, this was followed by unplanned visits based on need, and followed by visitation on yearly basis. The study also observed that visits by children were low and this could spell low social support of the elderly person by their immediate family. This affects the physical and psychological health of the elderly since little attention and care is given to them. Findings showed that most (67%) of the elderly. were not members of any community organization. Elderly people were not active members of groups due to perception of society towards them. Elderly people were also characterized by low socioeconomic characteristics. However, most of elderly people had basic properties for their survival. It was also found out that most (62%) of the respondents in the study did not have income generating activities. Respondents with income generating activities were asked to identify some activities. They included; subsistence farming, dairy farming, poultry farming other activities such as rental income, pension income and business income. The study established that a large proportion of children (53%) in the family were sometimes dependent and independent (not fully self supporting). Study noted that disintegration of families as a result of rural urban migration and economic hardships have pushed children away from the elderly leaving them unattended. Most of the elderly people met the following needs by themselves, food, clothing, and shelter. It was also observed that, slightly over half of the respondents in the study provided medical support and household support by themselves. Study results indicated that more than half of the respondents were somehow satisfied with financial support, moral support and household support. Findings revealed that most of the elderly time was spent either sleeping or carrying out household activities. The results suggest that activities in the morning decreases as the week grew, on the other hand the social activities also increased towards the end of the week. Study also observed that elderly people were against institutionalization of the elderly. It was also ~oted that such institutions were far away. It was also observed that elderly people could not recommend institutionalization of elderly people in the community. The study further observed that majority of the elderly people were comfortable with their weekly schedule, this was closely followed by 43% of the respondents who indicated discontent with their weekly schedule. The study recommends that there is an urgent need for empowerment programs targeting elderly people to ensure that they remain active and fully contributing to the economic development of the country. The government should support organizations working directly with the elderly so that they can better meet the needs of the elderly. Further, the Government should fast track the implementation of the policy on aging to ensure that the welfare of the elderly and their needs are met. With the current trends of rural urban migration the Government and Non Governmental organizations should consider the establishment and creation of awareness on the benefits of care and support of the elderly by the family and thereby demystifying institutionalization of elderly in the community.