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The country’s older people have, for years, been deprived of service delivery, including housing, education, employment and other socio-economic opportunities, yet they bear the brunt of the movements and patterns of society.
Statistics SA found during a general household survey last year, that older people are continuously affected by factors including poverty and migration, HIV and Aids, which have changed the tradition of younger generations taking care of the elderly.
The recently released report found that the older generation, who fall in the category of people aged over 60, are increasingly faced with the burden of caring for and supporting their families.
The report found that the number of families headed by older people had increased from 18.7 percent in 2002 to 20.6 percent last year.
Approximately 60 percent of households headed by older persons were three-generational, while 5.6 percent were skip-generational, characterised by the missing parents of children being cared for by grandparents.
A look into their relationship status found that the likelihood of being married or living together, or never being married decreased with age. Individuals, the report said, were more likely to be separated, divorced or widowed by the time they reached their 70s.
There were noticeable differences in the patterns according to gender, with the percentage of men living with someone else decreasing from 76 percent in their 50s to 71 percent in their 70s.
The percentages of women who were still married or living with a partners dropped sharply from almost 57 percent in their 50s to 30 percent when they reached their 70s.
“This could be because women live longer than men combined with the fact that their partners are usually older,” the report said.
Inadequate family support networks could also be responsible for the high numbers of older people found to either have no partner, be divorced/widowed or separated.
Households usually rely on a variety of income sources including salaries and wages, government grants, remittances and private pensions.
Among the elderly-headed households 70 percent said grants and pensions were their main source of income.
Approximately 25 percent of these households had salaries and/or wages as their main source, while 2.5 percent relied on remittances.
As far as education goes, women in their 60s and older were found more likely to be functionally illiterate.
Fewer older people were found to have completed primary school, and less than 10 percent had post-school qualifications.