“We Help each Other”: Relational Patterns among Older Individuals in South African Samples

Abstract

The present study aimed to describe the reasons for the importance of relationships for older individuals living in urban and rural sites in South Africa. Participants were selected from urban (n = 50, males = 14, females = 36; mean age = 70, SD = 8.35) and rural (n = 50; males = 16 females = 34; mean age = 67, SD = 5.31) areas in the North West Province of South Africa. Thematic analysis was implemented to explore participants’ important relationships and the reasons thereof. Both samples experienced provision and expectation of sustained support, personal identity and security via spiritual relatedness. Whereas the expression of affection for the nuclear family was unique to the urban sample, the rural sample expressed the need for dependable, trusting relationships. Interventions to improve relational well-being must consider a plurality of dimensions such as the self, others, the supernatural, and the unique social context.

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Acknowledgements

This work is based on the research supported in part by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa (Grant Numbers: 106050). We acknowledge that opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed are those of the authors and that the NRF accepts no liability whatsoever in this regard.

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Wilson, A., Wissing, M.P. & Schutte, L. “We Help each Other”: Relational Patterns among Older Individuals in South African Samples. Applied Research Quality Life 14, 1373–1392 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-018-9657-5

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Keywords

  • Relationships
  • Well-being
  • Older individuals
  • Rural and urban communities
  • South Africa