Original Research

Sharing in the life of the person with disability: A Ghanaian perspective

Frances E. Owusu-Ansah
African Journal of Disability | Vol 4, No 1 | a185 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v4i1.185 | © 2015 Frances E. Owusu-Ansah | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 March 2015 | Published: 29 September 2015

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Frances E. Owusu-Ansah, Department of Behavioural Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana


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Abstract

This thought article was a hermeneutic inquiry into the experiences of informal caregivers of the elderly who are also physically disabled. The experiences of some Ghanaian informal caregivers were examined in three clinical cases and laced with the lived experiences of the author as an informal caregiver and clinician. Two processes were explored. The first relates to how a caregiver is changed through the experience of caregiving by examining the intrapersonal and interpersonal dynamics affecting caregiving. Secondly, the positive ‘shifts’ that occurred in therapy were explored. In the present Ghanaian society it appears that care for the elderly disabled is compounded by the rapid migration of many Ghanaians to ‘greener pastures’ in search of a brighter future, with consequent empty homesteads and fragmentation of the socio-cultural practices that hitherto buttressed informal care for the aged. In the absence of well-established professional care facilities, informal caregiving with its numerous challenges has become the norm for many. This article posited that caregiver self-care is the most important, and yet often forgotten, aspect of informal caregiving. When this is neglected, caregiver burnout is sure to occur, which results in poor physical, mental and emotional health for the caregiver. In this state caregivers may injure both themselves and the care recipients.

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