Aging in Times of Pandemic
● The COVID 19 Pandemic has adversely affected access to basic needs
● This October 1st 2020, marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons.
● In 2020, for the first time in history, people aged 60 years or over will outnumber children under 5 years
● Dewdrop Foundation is committed to the vision of the UN “Decade of Ageing.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing untold fear and suffering for older people across the world. Beyond its immediate health impact, the pandemic is putting older people at greater risk of poverty, discrimination and isolation. It is likely to have a particularly devastating impact on older people in developing countries” – UN Secretary-General António Guterres
In Nigeria, primary healthcare providers in hospitals are challenged with teeming clinic attendance and usually unable to provide adequate healthcare, education and support services to older persons.
The elderly are typically parents or grandparents, living in multiple generational family households, due to limited institutionalized care. Most often, in-home care is provided for the elderly by family members, and sometimes a non-family Caregiver is hired to support the client’s family. Spouses, family members and friends carry out many important responsibilities such as personal care, transportation, management of finances and housekeeping.
This October 1st 2020, marks the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Older Persons. This year has also been recognized as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife”. The International Day of Older Persons 2020 will highlight the role of the health care workforce in contributing to the health of older persons, with special recognition of the nursing profession, and a primary focus on the role of women in eldercare. Women are usually taken for granted as Caregivers therefore they are relatively undervalued and, in most cases inadequately compensated, if any.
Dewdrop Foundation (DDF) is a non-profit organization that is working with over 800 elderly persons in 11 project communities in Enugu State. An outcome of our study in this project is the lack of, and critical need for trained and knowledgeable Caregivers in order to promote quality homecare for the elderly population in Nigeria. The difference between a good home Caregiver and a great one often comes down to training. Well-trained Caregivers are better able to handle all the different situations that might arise on the job. They should be proactive and able to anticipate the needs of the older person/client, especially in preventing accidents such as falls and other injuries, thus avoid associated hospitalization costs. They also provide much needed company for their clients in the “lonely old-age”, manage medications and take vital signs, recognize red-flags and act quickly if the patient is having a medical emergency. A good caregiver should also effectively communicate with the family of their client, and the rest of the healthcare team in order to ensure no critical information is missed. Clients and their families can feel secure in the knowledge that a well-trained caregiver is competent and trustworthy.
This October as we celebrate the International Day for Older Persons, we also celebrate our trained Caregivers in rural communities who are committed to caring for the elderly, despite the challenges of living far from quality medical and other social amenities.
Our Dewdrop Foundation team gives a shout out of appreciation to one of our 95 Oxfam-Voice sponsored training beneficiaries, Mr. James Ozoemena Nwaobodo, from Nkerefi community in Enugu State. James is proudly and diligently volunteering his professional caregiving skills for the elderly population in his community.
James was selected as one of the 4 youths who are also primary Caregivers of our project beneficiaries, the “Seenagers” in their community. The “Seenagers” are older persons aged 60 years and above, who are fondly called Senior Teenagers.
James and his colleagues arrived late on the first day of class due to transportation challenges from their remote village in Enugu State. James was dressed roughly and this gave the facilitators a lot of concern about his preparedness and ability. However, his passion for elderly people and eagerness to learn despite his limited education was delightful to the Facilitators, and was infectious on other members of his cohort at the Training Center. Our DDF team members were therefore happy to organize a special class for him and a few others who needed help with basic English communication skills. This enabled him to participate in the training and complete the blended training (in English and the local language, Igbo). He loves taking care of elderly people and they have shown their appreciation by showering him with prayers and blessings. James is one of our key advocates on our #StopElderAbuse campaign.
Dewdrop Foundation’s work with elderly and vulnerable populations will align with the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2020-2030) which is proposed as a global collaboration led by WHO and will bring together governments, international organizations, professionals, academia, the media, the private sector and civil society to improve the lives of older people, their families and our communities.
By Maryanne Kooda