Beyond Kin Care? Inscriptions on Aging in Southern Ghana
Elder care has become a significant national conversation in Ghana due to urban and international migration, lower birth rates, the nuclearization of the family, 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 the elderly. Through this heterodox discourse, aged persons are able to critique the state and the church for not providing care and reimagine 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. Both age-inscriptions are less articulated than standardized discourses about the significance of adult children’s care of the elderly, the orthodox position. Elderly people are anxious about their own aging, and are willing to imagine and explore new possibilities, illustrating the ways that social change in norms occurs.