International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

Socio-cultural support systems for the elderly and its implications for formal social protection programmes in rural Western Kenya

Owoko Lilian Adhiambo
  • Owoko Lilian Adhiambo
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Maseno University, private bag 40105, Maseno, Kenya.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 19 March 2015
  •  Accepted: 01 July 2015
  •  Published: 30 July 2015


The rising populations of the elderly and the various socio-cultural and economic changes that have taken place in the Luo community have had an impact on support systems for the elderly. However, there is little knowledge that shows this impact in relation to the functionality of the available support systems for the elderly. This study sought to examine socio-cultural support systems for the elderly in Malunga-West sub-location. Specifically, the study sought to examine the existing family-based support systems, non-family sources of support and the implications these support systems pose for formal social protection programmes for the elderly. The study was guided by the concept of relatedness as conceptualized by Carsten, and which is an approach to studying relationships in people’s daily life practices. The study used qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. Data were presented using descriptive statistics, reports and verbatim quotations. The study findings show that the extended family is continually becoming overburdened by care and support for its elderly population. Despite this, the elderly still rely on the extended family and other kin for their care and support. However, the elderly were slowly struggling to move away from the notions of depending on intergenerational reciprocity for their survival. The study concluded that despite changes in the community the extended family is still the core of support systems for the elderly. The study recommended that policy formulations with respect to the elderly should recognize the central role of the family and other non-family sources in care and support for the elderly.

Key words:  Elderly, Family-based support, Non-family support, Social Protection, Kenya.