Abla Mehio Sibai, Aline Semaan, Jiana Tabbara and Anthony Rizk
In many countries of the Arab region, the demographic transition is already underway with a decrease in fertility and mortality and a rise in the proportion of older adults. Longer life expectancies and higher burden of non-communicable disease co-morbidities bring new health and social concerns to families, societies and governments. In a number of countries in the Arab region, this is compounded with political turmoil, forced displacement, dynamic migration flows and economic and social instability that deplete family cohesion and exhaust societal resources. Such challenges require systematic changes to healthcare and social services delivery. Amidst a number of strategies for interventions that aim at maximizing health and well-being in old age, we focus in this paper on three fundamental approaches that are largely lacking in the Arab region: an integrated and holistic model of healthcare, policies and programmes that incentivize ageing in place and homecare, and knowledge production addressing local concerns and priorities.
This paper describes the circumstances surrounding the migration of older Latvian women and their multi-dimensional lives as economic migrants and as distant carers and supporters of diverse family members who remain in Latvia. In post-Soviet Latvia, especially since the 2008 financial crisis and the austerity measures which took away hope for a decent old-age pension, older women migrate abroad in order to salvage their economic wellbeing and support their multi-generation families, which can run to four generations – their children and grandchildren plus, often, their elderly parents. Migration enables these women to maintain multidirectional flows of care and also to achieve economic and psychosocial independence. Therefore, care practices that reach four generations put the figure of the grandmother at the core of transnational care relations. Research evidence for this paper comprises 50 in-depth interviews with older Latvian migrant women aged from their mid-40s to their late 60s in the UK and elsewhere. The paper demonstrates the complexity and richness of these women’s working lives, built around enhanced economic wellbeing, multiple and transnational caring responsibilities, and a new sense of self-worth and empowerment.