Elderly Care

Baby Boomers in Africa

Technological advancement catering to elderly care is shaping the sector in the continent. The increased life expectancy in the 21st century has seen a rise of an aging generation that seeks more independence and autonomy. Today’s elderly population – made up of individuals aged 60 and above (generally baby boomers) – is like no other that has been seen before. This group does not fit into any box or stereotypes that have been previously used to define or characterise senior citizens. Whilst some of them do fit the generally held idea of what elder people should be like and should do – most of these baby boomers (born between 1946 –1964) are not the tired, demotivated, slow, anti-social people who are constantly in need of assistance as they are typically described to be. According to Life Care Services, most of them are educated, motivated, savvy, and independent. In addition to this, Age International claims that this bunch does not want to be socially isolated and excluded – they want to be an active part of society just like they were before ‘retirement.

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According to We Forum, the increasing ageing population is driven by three factors “declining fertility, increasing longevity, and the progression of large-sized cohorts to older ages” – creating a large ageing population that the economy, workplace, elderly living, and healthcare sectors, as well as society has to prepare for. According to the World Health Organisation, the elderly population in Africa is expected to reach 67 million by 2025 and 165 million in 2050– making up 10% of the continent’s population.

Senior Living

Senior living trends are mainly driven by the elderly populations need for autonomy and independence. According to Senior Exposure cc, a South African internet company specializing in the senior market and senior accommodation, this group of seniors are opting for lifestyle retirement villages or multi-generational estates over the traditional old age homes or assisted living environments in which they do not have the autonomy and freedom they desire. Whilst it is important to note that not all senior citizens are in perfect condition to live independently in retirement villages due to mental and physical health concerns , some are fully cable of living alone.

“This is a far cry from the clinical setting of the average old-age home that we have known for so many years. Rocking chairs, sewing and daytime television in one communal area have been replaced by wine clubs, walking groups and dancing socials Arthur Chase, Brand marketing director of Evergreen Lifestyle

Retirement villages in South Africa such as Evergreen Lifestyle Villages and Retire24 in partnership with the Musa Group allow the elderly to enjoy the perks of living alone (in their own space) while also offering services that are similar to those of assisted living environments and traditional family estates. Catering services, laundry and cleaning services, full time security, frail care services, golf clubs and clubhouses are some of the things that are available to the seniors living in such villages.

Above and beyond the everyday retirement village rationale, which only affords the basic amenities, new retirement village models take into account the fundamental needs of the residents. Mid-to-high income individuals place far more value on their ability to afford basic assisted living care; full frail care, catering services, cleaning services, laundry services, maintenance services etc. Increasingly, individuals approaching and within retirement age, are looking to do so comfortably, circumventing prevalent concerns of health and safety.” Mr William Jimerson, Musa Group CEO

Though there is an increase in demand for the above mentioned living circumstances not all elderly citizens can afford this. This has resulted in some seniors moving into granny flats (also known as cottage) in the homes of their children or relatives which still provides them with the autonomy that they need, the closeness of family, as well as people to call on if they experience any issues relating to their health. In addition to this, some seniors are either choosing to live in communal homes where they can share spaces with other seniors and pay the necessary help and services that they need such as transportation, cleaning and cooking services. While other seniors still prefer to live in their original homes and would rather, depending on whether they need the help or not, pay for full time home care services or home care visits.

Tech for Seniors

Technological innovations have been created to provide the independence and convenience seniors so desire. In Africa, the country that has taken the lead in this regard is South Africa – creating a greater number of technological services for the elderly care market, particularly when it comes to telehealth.

These technological innovations have made it easier for seniors to get fast and effective medical and healthcare assistance,  safely and securely in their own homes while being able to communicate with their caregivers (doctors, nurses, and family members) when necessary.

Emergency alert services and apps have been on the rise on the continent creating the opportunity for elderly citizens to access medical help from wherever they are in the case of emergencies. Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS) is a medical alerts system that can be used by senior citizens for emergencies. Should a senior citizen find themselves in a case of emergency and has no immediate help they can alert the emergency response centre through a small transmitter that can either be worn around their neck or wrist, and help will immediately be sent to them. Respo is a South African company that has found a way to offer such medical alerts services through a mobile app that can be downloaded on one’s phone. Created by 29 year old Blessing Nzuza, the app aims “to reduce the time it takes for an ambulance to reach a patient during medical emergencies”. Though the app’s services are not limited to the use of elderly citizens alone, the services could directly benefit them too. My Life Line, is also a South African emergency alerts company that sells watches and ‘matchbox’ pendant panic button devices that can be used by the elderly to instantly send information about their medical details, estimated GPS location, and emergency contacts, to paramedics in the case of emergency.

In Nigeria, Chika Madubuko and Ogochukwu Obi have  created an online platform Greymate Care for the purpose of connecting caregivers to the elderly population in the country who are in need of home care services but do not have access or information on where they can find certified and trained home nurses. The two ladies started this online platform after realising, in 2017, that there we approximately 35 million people living in Nigeria who were over the ages of 55 who had spouses and children that would not be able to adequately take care of them because of their full time jobs.

Government policies and programs

A research article on the Care for the elderly in Nigeria conducted by Perpetua Lum Tanyi, Pelser André & Peter Mbah, revealed that there is a need more states in the continent to provide and implement governmental policies and programs that will help to ensure that the elderly receive adequate healthcare and social services they need. This also includes sufficient education and training for the personnel who will be expected to handle these services. Research conducted on National Policies and Older People’s Healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa by UKZN (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal) students: Sule Saka, Frasia Oosthuizen, Manimbulu Nlooto, reveals that of all the SSA (Sub-Saharan) countries studied Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania have formally and officially implemented policies concerning the ageing population, while countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Rwanda have drafted policies regarding the elderly populations but have yet to officially implement these policies. In addition to this, the study reveals that Senegal, Ghana and South Africa have successfully implemented free health care services for the elderly as well as exempted the older people from paying health insurance premiums.

It terms of social security services countries such as The Democratic Republic of Congo provide financial benefits (grants) to pensioners through a social service organisation called INSIS (L’Institut national de la Sécurité sociale). South Africa provides the similar service to its pensioners ,this service is facilitated by SASSA (South African Social Security Agency).

Closing

It is important to note that in exploring and taking advantage of the opportunities presented by new trends in the elderly care services market, these trends will not be relevant for all elderly people in the African continent. According to Age International, the elderly population of Africa  baby boomers who are considered to be affluent because of their large disposable income and ability to purchase the products and services they need, baby boomers who live in underserviced and poverty stricken communities with inadequate healthcare and social services, as well as the middle class in between. Therefore, in implementing strategies to accommodate or target this particular market, businesses need to be cognisant of the various groups within this market and find their niche.While the elderly care services market in Africa still has some way to go when compared to its international counterparts, particularly those in developed countries, it has great potential and presents great opportunities for those within it, and new entrants.

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