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Negotiating eldercare in Akuapem, Ghana: care-scripts and the role of non-kin

  • Cati Coe

In contemporary Ghana, adult children are considered responsible for the care of aged parents. Within this idealized framework, two aspects of eldercare are overlooked. Firstly, such a narrative obscures the role of non-kin and extended kin in providing eldercare in southern Ghana historically and in the present. Secondly, it hides the negotiations over obligations and commitments between those who manage eldercare and those who help with an ageing person's daily activities. It is in this latter role that non-kin and extended kin are significant in eldercare, while closer kin maintain their kin roles through the management, financial support and recruitment of others. This article examines recruitment to eldercare and the role of kin and non-kin in eldercare in three historical periods: the 1860s, the 1990s and the 2000s, centred on Akuapem, in southern Ghana. In particular, I show that helping an aged person relies on previous and expected entrustments, in which more vulnerable, dependent and indebted persons are most likely to be recruited to provide care.

Dans le Ghana contemporain, les enfants adultes sont considérés comme responsables de la prise en charge de leurs parents âgés. Dans ce cadre idéalisé, deux aspects des soins aux personnes âgées sont occultés. Premièrement, ce cadre éclipse le rôle historique et actuel des non-parents et de la famille étendue dans la prise en charge des personnes âgées dans le sud du Ghana. Deuxièmement, il masque les négociations sur les obligations et les engagements menées entre ceux qui gèrent les soins aux personnes âgées et ceux qui aident une personne âgée dans ses activités quotidiennes. C'est dans ce dernier rôle que les non-parents et la famille étendue sont importants en matière de soins aux personnes âgées, tandis que la famille proche maintient son rôle de parenté à travers la gestion, le soutien financier et le recrutement d'autres personnes. Cet article examine le recrutement et le rôle des parents et non-parents en matière de soins aux personnes âgées à trois périodes historiques : les années 1860, 1990 et 2000, dans la région d'Akuapem, dans le sud du Ghana. En particulier, l'auteur montre que l'acte d'aider une personne âgée repose sur des actes de confiance précédents et attendus dans lesquels des personnes plus vulnérables, dépendantes et redevables sont plus susceptibles d’être recrutées pour soigner.

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