Social support networks and psychological wellbeing in community-dwelling older Ghanaian cohorts

Health and Wellbeing

  • March 2020
  • Briefing Papers

The population of persons 60 years and older has been rapidly growing in many regions but especially in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs) (WHO, 2015). Located south of the Sahara Desert with 48 countries within the geographical extent of 23617901KM2 (United Nations, 2016; World Bank, 2018), sub-Saharan Africa has been agingquite dramatically in recent decades. About 46 million people aged 60 years or older lived in the regionin 2015 (an increase from 23 million in 1990).Crucially, this is projected to reach 161 million in 2050, with a growth rate projected to be faster than any other region in 1950-2015 (United Nations, 2016; United Nations DESA, 2017). In Ghana, for example, the proportion of those aged 60 + increased more than seven-fold between 1960 and 2013 (Biritwum et al., 2013). This provides concomitant health challenges with changes in physical and psychological health status in the demographically aging population. These are likely to include decline
in psychological wellbeing (PWB) and increased incidence of life events such as widowhood and retirement. These can affect the ability of older persons to live independently and to maintain better quality of life, which have globally become important public health and social policy concerns.