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"The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth."

—Akan (Ghana, Ivory Coast) proverb


By the end of this chapter, readers will be able to:

  1. Describe the demographics of aging in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  2. Describe cultural beliefs and values associated with aging in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  3. Identify family dynamics, including contributions of elders to their relatives and the contributions of relatives to care for elders, in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  4. Describe the health-care systems and services available to support older adults in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  5. Discuss funding mechanisms for services for older adults in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  6. Compare and contrast the circumstances of older adults in Israel, Mexico, and South Africa.

  7. Identify ways in which the issues and systems in these three countries are similar to and differ from those in the United States.

Clinical Vignette

Marta Garcia is an 86-year-old widow who lives in Mexico City with her adult daughter, her daughter's husband, and their three children. Mrs. Garcia has lived in Mexico City for her entire life. She has never held a paying job, staying home with her four children. Her husband worked for many years as a clerk in a government office until his death 10 years ago. Mrs. Garcia has looked after her grandchildren so that her daughter and son-in-law could maintain employment; now that the grandchildren are older, she finds she has less to do and feels frustrated by inactivity.

  1. What factors in Mrs. Garcia's situation seem to support positive aging?

  2. What are concerns about her current and future status with regard to accomplishing her activities?

  3. What might be the similarities and differences in perspective of occupational and physical therapists?

  4. What would a therapist need to know about health-care and senior services in Mexico to assist Mrs. Garcia?

The phenomenon of aging of the population is one that is occurring globally, not just in Western countries. Almost every country around the world is experiencing a growth in the number and proportion of the population that is older (World Health Organization, 2015). In some countries, notably Japan, the shift in population has already caused significant challenges to social circumstances; in others, like India, the change is occurring more slowly, and the greatest impact is probably several decades away.

Cultural and social factors have resulted in different systems to provide support for individuals as they age, and unique responses to demographic change. In this chapter, the situations in three countries—Israel, Mexico, and South Africa—are explored in depth. Experts from these three countries present a description of the demographic changes affecting their populations and the kinds of services provided for their growing populations of older adults. In reading these descriptions, it is ...

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