Aim. To describe various situations in which older people in South Africa are vulnerable.
Background. Poverty compromises the health of many older people in South Africa but the circumstances and ways in which this is managed and risk thought of is poorly understood. This paper presents three scenarios that describe individual studies and provide insight into the factors influencing the lives of some older people.
Method. Scenario 1 concerns people with dementia. Pilot work has collected interview data from four people with dementia, their four informal carers and three hospital nursing staff.
Scenario 2 concerns an analysis of data collected routinely as part of the Halt Elder Abuse Line, a telephone-based service for people to report abuse.
Scenario 3 concerns an interview study with farm workers who have retired and who are vulnerable to being displaced from the farms.
Conclusion. A variety of policy, social and individual factors result in older people being vulnerable and continuing research is required to further develop an understanding of these dynamics of risk to promote changes to current policy and practices.