Traditionally, extended family would have taken care of their aging members; it’s the family equivalent of Social Security. But in today’s Africa, where HIV has destroyed the family structure, and grandparents are left to care for grandchildren, for some there is no one to care for them in their declining years. About 30% of older women in Sub-Saharan Africa head what are called “skip-generation households,” because the middle generation has died or is extremely sick.
The UN Millennial Development Goals completely leave out issues related to the elderly; the MDG’s focus primarily on women and children. There are also very few non-profits addressing this crisis.
Lalmba is trying to make a difference for the elderly where we work in Kenya. We provide some modest assistance to those ailing elderly who lack family with resources to assist them: home-based health care, soap, a mattress and blanket, some food supplies, a chair when needed, and periodic visits from our staff to evaluate their needs or sometimes just to provide companionship. Our goal is to provide those ‘forgotten’ members of a needy community with some modest comforts and dignity in their final years.