Imagining Institutional Care, Practicing Domestic Care: Inscriptions around Aging in Southern Ghana
Keywords:aging, care, religion, state policy, institutional facilities
AbstractElder care has become a significant national conversation in Ghana due to urban and international migration, lower birth rates, family nuclearization, and longer life spans. In the rural towns of Ghana’s Eastern Region, new elder care practices and discourses are emerging. These age-inscriptions signal the agency of older persons, which is often neglected and overlooked. Discursively, older adults express curiosity about Western care facilities, a heterodox idea in relation to the orthodox position expressed by the Ghanaian government and NGOs which support kin care for older adults. Through this heterodox discourse, aged persons are able to critique the state and the church for not providing care and re-imagine a Western institution as fitting their locally constructed needs. On the other hand, pragmatically, aged persons and their children are adapting existing practices of adolescent fosterage to help provide elder care, a practice which is not discursively elaborated, and is therefore alterodox. Both age-inscriptions are less articulated than standardized discourses about the significance of adult children’s care, the orthodox position. This paper therefore illustrates how social change in norms occurs, through older people’s anxiety about their own aging, the use of their imagination, and their refashioning of existing care practices.
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