Elderly Abuse and Stigma Avoidance through Religious Involvement Among Elderly People in a Yoruba Community, Southwest Nigeria

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:50
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ojo Melvin AGUNBIADE, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, Nigeria
Funmilayo AFOLABI, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
In Nigeria, elderly abuse and stigma are growing widely in the midst of midst of different religious doctrines around the duties and rights of the aged and possible deviations from these expectations. Mishaps and unexplainable negative life events around the elderly and their care providers are normative indicators that an elder has deviated or failed. Spirituality through religious involvement in later life thus provides a framework to avoid stigma and neglect and promote healthy ageing experiences. Within a social setting that emphasises informal social support for older people, this study explores religious involvements among elderly Yoruba people (60+years) and agency in the face of social neglect and stigmatization. Using a purposive sampling strategy, we held 30 in-depth interviews with older people from the three dominant religions (Christianity, Islam and Traditional) among the Yoruba people. The findings revealed religious involvements as social measures of improving social relations and coping with life situations. Participation in religious activities is culturally rooted in the Yoruba belief system. Thus, in old age, religious activities and spirituality provides avenues for quality self-reflections over the ageing experiences. Failure to engage in such appraisal open space for stigmatization. At such points, an elderly risks neglect and possible stigmatization as significant others would perceive their aversion to certain religious activities as a mark of irresponsibility and unsuccessful ageing. Hence, involvement in religious activities as a way of avoiding stigmatization has an impact on subjective well-being. In later life, the individual agency remains instrumental in negotiating ageing experiences and coping with stigma and elderly neglect in a social setting devoid of a formal system of support.