YOU BETTER NOT GROW OLD IN NIGERIA: ELDER ABUSE




Every birthday comes usually with a common wish, “more years ahead”, and a more common prayer point on the lips of everyone every day is…”Lord I shall not die young”.
The common deductions mean that we all desire longevity of life. With improved hygiene, advancement in medicine and technology, many people are living healthy and ageing longer than in time past.

Shocking revelations by the United Nations shows that the growing number of people into old age (60 >) will rise astronomically from 2015-2050, with one in three persons age 60 and above in Nigeria. Projections places Nigeria at 3.3%. This is largely so because of its current youthful population.

I remember back then as a kid, even as a young adult that my mother sometimes would deny us and herself certain things just to make sure her parents were adequately taken care of,  I need not mention the fact that my aunties would always seize the opportunity for a
holiday to congregate round my grandparent, and even took turns to take them to their homes on vacation. Seriously I envied the attention my granny got then. These older people in the prime of their lives contributed in molding the lives of people around them, and one could boldly say that they played their part in the success stories of their children, community and Nigeria as a whole. Even in old age no other age category possesses the high level of wisdom they have.

Let us fast forward a bit, presently older persons are seen as objects for welfare (i.e most adult children believe that all they owe their parent is to send money and food over) and a burden on the family system.

Hitherto, the African society provided that adults took care of the aged, but with economic hardships and other prevalent factors the trend is changing and older parents/persons are currently being neglected and thus suffer several forms of abuse that most times are not noticed. Current situations shows that the elderly are the most vulnerable group after children, and badly so they are highly marginalized.

According to the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) states that “Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.” But this will depend on the frequency of occurrence, the duration, extremity, consequences. The abuse of the elderly is either an act of commission or omission and can be described as abusive, neglectful or exploitative, either intentionally or unintentionally but in most cases result in unnecessary suffering, injury and pain, loss or violation of human right and a decreased quality of life for the older person.

For what it’s worth, I want to address elder abuse at the family level. That is not to say that the other structural and institutional platforms e.g. government do not have their own share of the blame.
We put our older persons through Physical, Emotional and psychological, neglect/abandonment and financial abuse.

Due to the frailty of our older parents; children, grandchildren and most often times caregivers who are paid to care for the elderly abuse our senior citizens by inflicting pain or injury by pinching, beating, depriving the older person food as punishment and sometimes exposing them to harsh weather conditions. Aminu (not real name) a wheel chair-bound, elderly man shared his experiences on the mistreatment he daily received from the houseboy (male servant) employed to take care of him. He recounted that most times the mood of the boy determined the level of abuse he suffered. 

He said “the violent pushing of the wheelchair creates a fear in me. Sometimes when I need to be exposed to some sunshine the boy abandons me in the sun until such a time that is convenient for him to push me back into the house. I cannot complain to my only daughter who engaged the boy’s services because she once told me to endure all the mistreatment that getting a replacement could be difficult. For others, family members exhibit behaviors such as insults, jokes meant to ridicule the older person, name-calling, intimidating and threatening the individual with isolation and neglect and deliberately not talking to the older person which is called the “silent treatment”. 
Most traumatizing of all is that older persons are stereotyped witches and wizards, lest I forget the elderly women sometimes get raped by randy young men, these behaviors constitute emotional and/or psychological abuse.

The refusal or failure to fulfill filial obligations intentionally or unintentionally is also a form of abuse. Our local communities are inhabited by old people who do not have people skilled to take adequate care of them.  Most adult children attribute this to the current financial situation, whereby they cannot fend for their immediate family talk-more of the elderly. Sometimes grand children tend to trick the older ones into spending their money unnecessarily. The list of abuses continues.

Our old parents, grandparents are suffering daily and they seldom report the various forms of abuse they encounter even by their own children, grandchildren and care givers. It is enough to ignore their cries after all they are old and deserve to die. But know that for every birthday you celebrate and prayers you engage in for longevity of life that someday you too may be a victim of these abuses if we do not return back to our old ways of caring for the elderly amongst us.

Remember: All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights, and have the right to age with dignity, respected by their families and communities, free of neglect, abuse and violenceBan Ki-moon

Get closer to the aged in the house, community. Sometimes all they need is someone to talk chat with. Boredom birth depressions and this kills faster than AIDS.
I hope to grow old someday, I wish that I will be treated with respect and dignity not out of pity but because it is my right. I KNOW YOU WANT THAT TOO, SO LET’S HAVE ATTITUDINAL CHANGE IN THE WAY WE SEE AND TREAT OUR AGED ONES.
  
I just want to make common sense.#mailmunch-pop-286993

Comments