According to the South African Older Persons Forum (SADPF) it was estimated that in 2009 3.7 million of the total South African population was over 60 years of age and this figure has risen to upwards of 8 million.  Of these 58% were women. Black women accounted for the largest spread of older persons. Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal have the highest numbers of older persons with the Northern Cape having the lowest.

Some of the challenges facing older persons today include:

  • The World War 2 “baby boomer” generation will eventually have retired by 2020. However, many will continue to work due to the fact that they cannot afford to retire and it is expected that the number of 65 plus year old people working will double by 2020.
  • Those that have prepared for their retirement are facing different problems today as a result of their funds having been eroded due the current economic crisis.
  • The South African population is getting older, the birth rate is reducing and more people are living to a greater and uncertain age
  • Health care costs, especially long term care costs are continually increasing
  • Fewer people have provided for their retirement
  • A serious lack of home based care exists which would enable older persons to be kept in their communities as long as possible to continue their role in the family and the community
  • Many of the services catering for this segment, which should be funded by government, are actually provided by non-governmental, community or faith based organisations who are either underfunded or not funded at all like Resthaven (who get no funding from Government) with many communities not even having access to these services
  • Frail care especially has suffered through the lack of any single standards and a variety of different costing models over the different provinces
  • There are increasingly more and more shortages of skilled personnel
  • Many health professionals have a negative perception about this branch of medicine and many doctors are ill equipped to deal with the special requirements of geriatric patients
  • Heath issues include a prevalence of HIV in the older than 50 age group especially amongst men
  • Housing, although it should be made available to the elderly, tended to be allocated to younger persons.
  • As a result of impoverishment more of the elderly are losing their health (through infection, inadequate nutrition, and poor health care), their livelihoods (through the illness and death of breadwinners and working adults), their families (as they are separated from family members and sent to stay with other relatives or care-givers), and their social networks.
  • Many of the elderly are also being forced into situations where they are almost totally dependent on assistance from NGO’s and churches
  • Elderly men and women frequently express a desire for basic companionship or the need for assistance, but prefer not to impose on family members.
  • Concerned family members may be forced to acknowledge that it has become increasingly difficult for loved ones to take care of themselves and their homes.

Taking this all into account we have a problem that is escalating with many more people coming up for retirement and or have already retired and these people will find their financial expectations falling way short of their plans which will lead to them being forced to stay in the job market putting additional strain on an ever expanding unemployment problem.

Useful links:

Older Persons Act (13/2006)Regulation 33075, 2010

Old Age Pension South Africa

South African Association of Retired Persons