Forms, Patterns and Predicators of Elder Abuse in Machakos County, Kenya
Muli, Ruth Mueni
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The thesis addresses itself to an emerging issue, elderly abuse, that is prevalent yet it is hidden in most communities. It is an issue affecting the elderly population who are increasingly marginalized and ignored. Modernization and attendant urbanization has weakened the social bonds that held communities together, bonds that shielded the weak and especially the elderly from neglect or abuse. Elder abuse is an emerging social problem. As the Kenyan elderly population is rising, phenomenon of elder abuse and the underlying factors contributing to elder abuse need to be understood in their totality. The study explored the forms, patterns and patterns of elder abuse, the reasons for abuse and predicting factors of elder abuse in Machakos County, Kenya. The study used two theories, Social Exchange and Power Control Theory. Cross sectional research design was employed to study phenomena of elder abuse at a specific point in time. The study adopted a mixed methods approach. A purposive sampling of two sub-counties, Machakos Town and Mwala were selected. A sample size of 317 (142 male and 175 female) elderly persons aged 60 and above were interviewed on their socio demographic characteristics (gender, age, marital status, income, occupation, living arrangements, and health status) and their experience of elder abuse. Data yielded by the study were both quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative data was collected through face-to-face interviews as well as three Focus Group Discussions and Key Informant interviews. The data collection tools were semi-structured interview and focus group discussion and Key Informant guide. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics (frequencies, means, standard deviations and percentages) and inferential statistics (Chi square, Pearson’s product- moment correlation) at 0.05 % level of confidence. Results showed the elderly experienced physical, psychological, financial, sexual abuse and neglect. The results further indicated that there was no significant influence of gender, age, income, marital status and occupation on elder abuse. All categories of the elderly experienced elder abuse. Health and living arrangements had a significant influence on the experience of abuse. The key predicting factors for physical, psychological and financial abuse were found to be ownership of land and having not subdivided it as well as family strife. Sexual abuse happened because the elderly person was found living alone as well as violation of customs like in joking relationships. Neglect was found to be caused by the fact of children having moved to live elsewhere and leaving the elderly person on their own. The study findings highlighted the nature and extent that is not clearly understood of the issue of elder abuse and the urgency to inform on policy formulation focusing on the elderly abused. A curriculum on Social Gerontology should be developed to gain the knowledge about the elderly and consequently on elder abuse. The study augments the Social Pillar of Vision 2030 and the Kenya Constitution on Social Security and Social Justice.