Reflections on the challenges faced by elderly African women in caring for the orphans left behind by their adult children who died of aids-related illness

  • Thozamile Qubuda
  • Cornie Groenewald

Abstract

In South Africa, AIDS patients are increasingly cared for at home by women in their traditional role of family caregiver. The number of parents assuming care for their adult children infected with HIV and with AIDS-related illness is increasing and this affects parents negatively. The objectives of this study were for these elderly women to reflect on the challenges faced by them while caring for the orphans left behind by their adult children who have died of AIDS-related illnesses.   A phenomenological orientation  has been used, since the aim was to explore subjective  meanings, experiences  and interpretations. Lived experiences of 10 elderly African   women, who were taking care of their grandchildren, were investigated.  Carers struggled with the physical impact of this disease; there was a clear nexus between the carers' coping capacity and the PLWHAs' physical health. As the PLWHAs' health declined, carers' coping skills were put to the test.

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