Livelihood, Living Condition And Coping Strategies Among Older Persons
Older persons are known for wisdom because they have experienced more days or years on earth more than others. At some point in live, the older persons are disengage from their long life activities and thus, they are deprived of some basic things. The society had been structured that the older persons cannot hold some particular posts or performs some particular activities. The last ASUU-LASU strike has some of the elements of retirement as its core problem with the Government.
The older persons are still generally stigmatized, living below expectation and still relegated in the Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study, therefore, is to examine the means of livelihood, living conditions and coping strategies of older persons. Disengagement theory and conflict theory were used to explain the phenomenon. The study made use of quantitative research method for data collection. The quantitative method involved the distribution of 150 questionnaires but which 149 questionnaires were returned. This implied that there were about 99.3% questionnaires returned. The quantitative method of data collection was done through questionnaire distribution and analyzed via the software called Software Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The data collected were analyzed using simple percentage and frequency distribution.
Three (3) hypotheses were tested and all were significant. The findings of the study were that the older persons were not been cared for adequately by their family members. The society disengages the older people from its economic mainstream without a replacement for their livelihood. It was also observed that the living condition of the older persons in Ojo Local Government correlates with their livelihood. Their statuses are relative low and thus their living conditions are relatively poor. They are making efforts to improve their livelihood by engaging in various economic activities.
The study recommends that every family having older persons should not abandon them but try everything possible to help their living conditions. Furthermore, Government too should put the older people’s livelihood at heart and make it visible in their policies. Furthermore, Non-Governmental Organizations should also look into the plights of the older persons in Ojo Local Government.
1.1 Background of the Study
Sociologists do not question the idea that age and ageing are linked to biological and psychological development, but they cannot be fully understood without reference to their social context. Just as race and sex were once seen in purely biological and psychological terms but now viewed sociologically through concepts such as ethnicity and gender, age can also be seen in sociological terms. From this perspective, age can be seen as, in part, a social construction. The meaning of old age varies from society to society. In the traditional societies, the elderly are revered for their wisdom and have high social status and considerable power (Haralambos et al, 2008). The social status of the elderly have, however, crashed in the contemporary society. At this particular stage, most of the older persons might have been disengaged from their long-life activities. Poverty, emotional and material neglect are the major challenges faced by the aged especially when their family members are nowhere to be found in terms of support.
Most developed countries of the world have accepted the chronological age of 65 years as a definition of ‘elderly’ or older person, but like many westernized concepts, this does not adapt well to the situation in Africa (World Health Organization, 2014). Age classification varied between differences or functional ability related to the workforce, but more often than not was a reflection of the political and economic situation of countries, which could also include the life expectancy of the people of the country. Many a time, the definition is linked to the retirement age, which in some instances, was lower for women than men. This transition in livelihood became the basis for the definition of old age which occurred between ages of 45 and 55 for women and between the ages of 55 and 75 years for men (Thane, 1978).
When attention was drawn to older populations in many developing countries, the definition of old age many times followed the same path as that in more developed countries, that is, the government sets the definition by stating a retirement age. Considering that a majority of old persons in sub-Saharan Africa live in rural areas and work outside the formal sector, and thus expect no formal retirement or retirement benefits, this imported logic seems quite illogical. This is one of the flaws of the definition of older persons from the western world because most of the dwellers in the rural areas of the developing countries work in the informal sector and the application of retirement to old age would not be substantive to work for them. Further, when this definition is applied to regions where relative life expectancy is much lower and size of older population is much smaller, the utility of this definition becomes even more limited. Thus, the definition of older persons shouldn’t be given from a myopic point of view but should consider the fact that the human variation is not an abstract concept but a global phenomenon and the all encompassing concept of age should be put into consideration.
A single definition, such as chronological age or social, cultural, functional markers e.t.c, is commonly used by, amongst others, demographers, sociologists, anthropologists, economists and researchers, it seems more appropriate in Africa to use a combination of chronological, functional and social definitions. Despite Nigeria is considered and classified among the developing countries, it still maintain the definition of 65 years (retirement age) for an old person.
The population of older people is on the increase worldwide. Despite the fact that the life expectancy of humans in developing countries like Nigeria is lower than that of the developed countries. Advances in medicine had contributed to this phenomenon which had seen the population of the Western world to age gracefully and constitute a old population while the developing countries is having a young population due to high fertility rate and lower life expectancy..
Demographically, in most nations of the world, persons below 15 years and 65 and above are regarded as the dependent population which is in contrast to those who are between the ages of 15 and 64 years of age, who are seen as the independent population. The individuals who are 65 and above must have gone through the first stage of dependency (0 – 14 years), second stage of being dependent (15–64 years) and back being dependent again due to old age which must have disengaged then from the active activities in the society.
Livelihood means the way one earns money in order to survive. It also connotes the current condition of individual and households and the ways or means via which they reproduce themselves. Some of the socio-economic factors that may impact on the livelihood of the older persons include relative wealth, poverty, access to resources and ownership of property/assets (Amaike, 2005).
Coping strategy could be referred to the specific efforts, both behavioral and psychological, that people employ to master, tolerate, reduce, or minimize stressful events. There are two general coping strategies: problem-solving strategies are efforts to do something active to alleviate stressful circumstances, whereas emotion-focused coping strategies involve efforts to regulate the emotional consequences of stressful or potentially stressful events. Research indicates that people use both types of strategies to combat most stressful events (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980). The older persons engage in different coping strategies to keep body, soul and spirit together. For some of them who retired in the formal sectors, the set up small or medium scale businesses like rental services, renting out of building material among others to get their feet grounded after they must have been disengaged from the activities they have done for almost half of the life. Some other people, who had no opportunity of such, go into alms begging and some others depend largely on family members and relatives.
Being old does not necessarily make people poor, it is just that the risk of being poor increases. Those people who are poor in old age are most likely to be those who have earned least in their working days or worked outside the formal sector where pensions and other benefits would be given to them (Moore et al, 2001).
1.2 Statement of Problem
In many societies of the world, older persons must continue to earn their living so long as possible they want to survive. However, the exclusion of older persons from income-generating activities is common and livelihood recovery activities are often planned without considering the capacities of older persons; For example, government’s intervention programme like buying of tractors for the older farmers may not be what the farmers need. Older persons may be more affected during conflict because they are often custodians of the land that is ravaged or occupied. Older women’s position in the informal economic sector can leave them with few marketable skills and no retirement compensation. Older widows, in particular, are often among the most marginalized in cultures where the inheritance codes dispossess them on their husband’s death.
The discrimination and stigmatization attached to the term ‘old age’ or ‘older persons’ is not only a national issue but a global phenomenon as well.
In the recent years, most developing countries of the world are adopting the system practiced by the developed countries in which they help provide livelihoods in terms of pensions on retirement in old age which may be sponsored by the state or employer. We must, however, consider those that were never opportune to work in any government parastatal or with a private employer as well as those that were retrenched before attaining the retirement age.
In Nigeria, what is visible to everyone is that supports given to older persons are chiefly the work of their respective families, which means that any old person who didn’t plan well for his/her old age and still lack a family to care and cater for his/her needs is doomed. These old people engage in different activities such as fishing, carpentry, butchery, site-labouring, farming and others go into alms begging to keep body, spirit and soul together as coping strategies. Most of these activities are aimed at strengthening their survival instinct and for few others, to stay fit.
The cost on health care is relatively high for the aged as they frequently have one health issue or the other based on biological factors attributed to old age. The little gotten to stay alive will be snuffed out on health care and for those that cannot afford this or gave families to support them may either take to aims begging or live with the health challenges till death take their lives away.
They standard of living is another issue faced by the aged. There is no market anywhere that sells same item at different prices using the working class and the non-working class as criteria as regards to the standard of living. The problems faced by the elderly are so numerous and the quality of life for the aged is pathetically degrading in all ramifications.
1.3 Research Questions
- What are the means of livelihood available to older persons in Ojo Local Government?
- What is the current socio-economic status of older persons in Ojo Local Government?
- Have the livelihood of the older persons affected their living conditions?
- What are the various formal and informal coping strategies available to older persons in Ojo Local Government?
- Are the older persons still largely stigmatized or discriminated by others?
- To examine the means of livelihood available to older persons in Ojo Local Government.
- To discover the current socio-economic status of older persons in Ojo Local Government
- To examine if the livelihood of the older persons affects their living conditions
- To investigate the various formal and informal coping strategies available to older persons in Ojo Local Government
- To investigate the extent to which older persons are stigmatized in the area.
1.5 Significance of Study
The findings of this study will be of immense benefit to the Government and bodies like non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), Human Rights Activists etc. Specifically it will help the government of Nigeria to plan, given that; the problems faced by old people are exposed and adequately addressed. In the same vein, it will add to the existing body of knowledge in the field of gerontology or sociology of ageing by way of the data, review of existing literature and recommendations that will be proffered in the course of the study.
1.6 Scope of the Study
For the purpose of the study, the scope of the research work would be an examination of the livelihood, living conditions and coping strategies among older persons in Ojo Local Government area of Lagos State.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Livelihood is a means of securing the necessities of life. It is a set of activities which involved the securing of food, water, shelter, clothing and the capacity to acquire above necessities working either individually or as a group by using endowments (both human and material) for meeting the requirements of the self and his/her household on a sustainable basis with dignity (Wikipedia). This is the same thing Abraham Maslow referred to as the ‘physiological stage’ in his hierarchy of needs. It is something that provides income to live on, especially a paid work (Encarta dictionary).
Living conditions are the factors or circumstances affecting or threatening the situation someone is living or working in.
Coping strategy is the expecting conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/coping-strategy). Coping strategies are the mechanism people put in place to counter the conditions they find themselves.
Older Persons refers to people of pensionable age. They are referred to as people who are in the last phase of the human life cycle. These set of people are seen as the dependent population. In some countries, it is 60 years and above while in others, it is 65 years and above.
Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation
The objective of this study was to assess the livelihood living conditions and coping strategies among older persons. In the previous chapter we have been able to present and analyse data collected from the field. In this chapter, our focus is to conclude on the study and make possible recommendations.
The study gave an overview of the research and described the problem in the first chapter. In the chapter two, we reviewed related and relevant literatures, capturing both the theoretical and empirical works. In the third chapter, we described the methodology adopted for the research. In the fourth chapter, we presented and analyzed data based on the respondents responses, while in the fifth chapter, we drew a conclusion to the study.
Aging leads to the accumulation of losses, which means symbolic deaths through the loss of physical vigor, loved ones, the strength of emotional relationships and a social life and also one’s value as a person in a society based on productivity. The synthesis of the analyzed studies indicates that when faced with aging and death, whether it is a symbolic death or the perception of their own finitude, the elderly used a coping strategy with favorable and unfavorable results for health. The favorable strategies were: negotiation, acceptance, accommodation, the search for social support, the search for spiritual comfort and living in the moment; while the unfavorable strategies were: anticipated mourning, a desire to die, isolation and submission. Thus, it can be said that while some elderly people faced aging and finitude with anticipated mourning and the desire to die, due to the fear of dependency and of becoming a burden for relatives; others faced aging, loss, and finitude by seeking spiritual comfort, social support, and acceptance.
The findings of the study were that the older persons were not been cared for adequately by their family members. The society disengages the older people from its economic mainstream without a replacement for their livelihood. It was also observed that the living condition of the older persons in Ojo Local Government correlates with their livelihood. Their statuses are relative low and thus their living conditions are relatively poor. They are making efforts to improve their livelihood by engaging in various economic activities. The study recommends that every family having older persons should not abandon them but try everything possible to help their living conditions. Furthermore, Government too should put the older people’s livelihood at heart and make it visible in their policies. Furthermore, Non-Governmental Organizations should also look into the plights of the older persons in Ojo Local Government.
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