Elderly Women, Community Participation and Family Care in Ghana

Lessons from HIV Response and AIDS Orphan Care in Manya Krobo

Deborah Atobrah


The new paradigm for promoting quality of life of the elderly, referred to as active aging, embraces the continued participation of the elderly in social, cultural, religious, and civic affairs. Culture has been identified as a cross-cutting determinant in the active aging framework. Based on ethnographic research on traditional responses to HIV/AIDS in Manya Krobo, this paper illustrates how elderly Krobo women leveraged their cultural status to participate in family and community affairs, foster family sustenance, and contribute to health promotion and HIV response in their community. Community participation was however stressful for many of the participants because of inadequate support. The paper argues that while the social benefits accrued from elder people’s participation could be a complementary argument for policy interventions on their behalf, there is a need to interrogate how such engagements are likely to affect their quality of life. The paper thus recommends support for the elderly as they engage in community and family affairs, so as to enhance their quality of life, which is the ultimate goal of the active aging paradigm.

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