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ISSN: 0331-4111
Volume 16, No. 2  (2018)


Cultural Conception of ‘eniyan l’aso mi’ and the Changing Roles of Family in Social Production of Care for the Elderly in Yoruba Setting

Olufunke O. Adegoke1, Adeola I. Alabi1 & Ayodele S. Jegede1,2

1Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

2West African Bioethics Training Program, College of Medicine University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria


Yoruba conception of “eniyan l’aso mi” meaning “humans are my clothing” represents the deep cultural belief in the importance of having reliable people for support whenever needed. Social production of care is production and distribution of roles and responsibilities in caregiving. Individual household members care for their relatives differently. While this concept of eniyan l’aso mi influences social relationship generally in the Yoruba society it is not clear how this will translate to social production of care for the elderly. Considering the changes in social realities of the elderlies and their families, this study, examined, family care provision for the elderlies living with chronic conditions. Using Symbolic Interactionism and Role Theory for the theoretical analysis, data were generated on familial support for elderly living with diabetes mellitus/cardiovascular diseases. Twenty-four In-Depth Interviews and Twelve Key Informant Interviews were conducted among elderlies and their caregivers selected from the community and Old People’s Home. The generated data was content-analyzed in line with the thematic of the study. Change in residential pattern, rising cost of living, children’s late entrance into marital/family life and disintegration of familial bond were observed factors influencing familial care of the elderly. Furthermore, children were found to be the most reliable source of family support for these elderly; familial support was not only found to be preferred to other sources of support, it was also found to be positively associated with aged quality of life. Although familial support is a key determinant of chronically ill elderlies’ quality of life, measures guaranteeing elderly access to care must be put in place.

Keywords:     Chronic condition, familial support, social production of care, Yoruba’s of Nigeria

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