Social Support and Its Implications on Health: An Anthropological Study of the Elderly Residing in Old Age Homes

Journal of the Anthropological Survey of India, 65(2) : (319-332), 2016

Social Support and Its Implications on Health: An Anthropological Study of the Elderly Residing in Old Age Homes

Rohit Kumar
Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh

Abstract
Social support becomes increasingly important factor in one’s life as a person ages. Caring the elderly was never a problem. However, in the last two to three decades, the rapid pace of modernisation and urbanisation taking place in the country has been affecting the status of the elderly. With more nuclear families, long term care of the elderly and meeting their needs on the physical, social and health fronts is becoming very difficult. The present study is carried out among the elderly inmates residing in old age homes of four cities; three of Punjab namely Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and one Union Territory of Chandigarh. A total of 350 elderly comprising of 160 men and 190 women aged 60 years and above residing in the 15 old age homes form sample of the present study. Age sixty was considered as a cut-off age for the elderly. The present paper deals with role of social support, social support network and social visits in the life of elderly persons residing in the old age homes. It is assumed that the social support and social network of the elderly is reduced after they start residing in old age homes. It was found that better social support network helps the elderly to cope with adverse conditions while living in old age home. In the present study better social support network is found to be prevalent among the elderly men before joining the old age home as well as after joining the old age home. The social support among the inmates in old age home in the form of social visits by the loved ones helps them in reducing stress, increasing and improving mental wellbeing.

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