Coping, social support, and needs of grandparents caring for children orphaned by Aids : an ecosystemic approach.

Tloubatla, Sibongile
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The AIDS pandemic has affected the lives of millions worldwide and has a particular devastating impact in Sub-Saharan Africa. Much is known about the effects of AIDS on children and on young adults but little attention is given to the plight of grandparents. This study focused on an increasing phenomenon in the black South African family and the increase of families headed by aged individuals who are often reliant on pension payouts for their livelihood. Against this background, this research explored the challenges facing a sample of ten black South African grandmothers between the ages of sixty-four and seventy-eight, living in Katlehong, west of Ekurhuleni in the outskirts of Johannesburg. These participants attended a granny-support group at Khanya Family Centre, a non-governmental organization. Face-to-face in-depth interviews were conducted. The study focused exclusively on the participants’ challenges to cope, and their social support needs as caregivers. The findings of this study showed that elderly women caring for AIDS orphaned grandchildren faced substantial obstacles in meeting their caregiving responsibilities. Some of the challenges faced by these grandmothers as caregivers included lack of psychological support, emotional support and socio-economic support. They also experienced stressful lives, compounded by age-related ailments and conditions. Coping with the challenges of caring for the AIDS orphaned grandchildren as well as their own problems negatively impacted on their psychological, emotional and physiological well-being.
Grandparents, Child care, Children orphaned by AIDS