Empowering elderly children to become social elders

  • Elizabeth A. Guillette Department of Anthropology, University of Florida, USA


Older citizens of Botswana are experiencing a devaluation of their personal worth, both in the family and in society. Within a setting of generalized poverty, the elderly have a unique age-induced form of destitution - the gerontic deprivation trap. Powerlessness, isolation, vulnerability and physical weakness interlock with culture change to displace old people from society. A self-help programme to empower older persons was developed, based on tradition, culture, and the needs of improved nutrition, health care and income. Although the needs of men and women varied, the outcome of empowerment to lessen gerontic deprivation was equal. Status and worth within the household and community increased as older persons became contributing members of society.


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