A qualitative study of healthcare of the elderly: a case study of Indians in Avoca, Durban.
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Global populations are rapidly ageing, and as a result there is an elevated burden of disease and ill-health. This increase is generally associated with the process of ageing especially in contexts where there is a lack of resources and access to medical healthcare. The recent emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and its high mortality risk for the elderly now sheds more light on the issues surrounding ageing and health, as the elderly are the most vulnerable to mortality from such diseases. This study investigates the healthcare needs, opportunities and challenges of elderly Indians in Avoca, Durban. The study employed a qualitative approach, relying on interviews with 20 elderly Indian men and women living in Avoca, Durban. The interviews revealed that the elderly mainly required healthcare for chronic non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiac diseases, which they sought at formal healthcare facilities. Finance had a major influence on the choice of healthcare. Healthcare choices are dependent on affordability and accessibility. Some of the participants reported not being able to meet all their needs such as treatment for certain health conditions. There were also challenges in accessing reliable and affordable transport to health facilities. Participants who met their healthcare needs were able to do so with their social grants or family support. Participants that were able to afford medical aid preferred to visit private healthcare providers, whilst those that could not afford medical aid had to visit public healthcare facilities. There was great dissatisfaction with the public health facilities due to overcrowding, never-ending queues, long waiting periods, lack of medication, and poor attitude of staff. Studying the healthcare needs of the elderly provides an opportunity for policy and health system reformation in order to cater to the needs of the growing elderly population. In order to overcome the challenges posed by ageing, interventions must centre around structural reform of existing health systems, the possibility of a national health insurance to create equitable access to healthcare, proper training and gerontology education for health service providers, and policy formulation that will enable health systems to prepare for the rapidly increasing ageing population.