One of the greatest desires of every human being is to live long and age gracefully.

Irrespective of religions and beliefs, we always pray for long life. This means that everybody truly desires the “beauty of the grey hair” which comes with ageing. Studies have shown that one of the greatest markers of a healthy society is the number of older citizens you can find in there. If the number of older citizens is very few, it is an indicator that a lot of things are wrong. Nigeria is currently ranked among the top worst places for the elderly to live in. 

Growing older each year presents us with lots of opportunities which when properly utilized, comes with a sense of fulfillment. Many of the elderly persons we see around us are men and women of great worth – patriarchs and matriarchs of change.  

These are men and women who have contributed to the very fabric of the society we are enjoying today;

These are people who took the pain and sacrifice to raise their children (for example our parents);

These are people who took on rigorous jobs and had sleepless nights just to bring food to the table;

These are men and women who have rendered sacrificial services to our great nation and the world at large;

These are men and women who fought for our freedom and the policies we are enjoying today; yet many of them die without being recognized or appreciated.   

If we must be fair in our judgement, these people deserve to be respected, loved, appreciated, well taken care of and not abused or deprived of their fundamental human rights such as the rights to security and basic social services. 

According to WHO, 15.7% of people 60 years and older are subjected to abuse. These prevalent rates are likely to be underestimated as many cases of elder abuse are not reported.

As already known, elderly persons are among the most marginalized groups in Nigeria; yet, there is no law on a comprehensive social welfare and security for them. Across the world and in Nigeria, there has been a significant increase in domestic abuse which has been on the increase since the Covid-19 lockdown. They face physical, sexual, verbal abuse from their care givers, society and family members and society.

In Nigeria,  many people are ignorant about the causes of age induced ailments/disabilities caused by memory loss, such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease which makes the elderly to “act strange” and are often labelled witches (in the case of women) hence they are maltreated and abused. 

We all need to wake up and join hands together to put an end to this menace against the elderly because we all will definitely toll that path someday.

We need to kick against elder abuse in our society and stop every evil action against them such as beating them up, tagging them witches, burning them alive – as seen in some of our communities .

We all need to take a stand and do something about this both individually and collectively.

To mitigate elder abuse in communities and households, Dewdrop Foundation in collaboration with CGE Africa, is currently implementing a project on curtailing elder abuse in communities, using Enugu State as a pilot. The project creates safe spaces and platforms where the elders (or Seenagers) can speak up about issues of concern to them. It is our wish that these platforms will be replicated in other communities. A policy brief on criminalizing elder abuse in Enugu State has been presented to the Governor of Enugu State, including its legislature. Today over 800 elders have been impacted by our project.

Recently, we also launched an Art and Essay competition on ENDING ELDER ABUSE as a way of promoting intergenerational activities between the young and the elderly.
Our goal is to sensitize the children and youth about the importance of caring and   protecting the elderly.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that we will all grow old someday hence, let’s do unto them (our elders) as we would want others to do unto us when we grow old!

Remember ageing is a blessing!

By Agrayah Odiri Victor



By Ms. Nneka Acholonu Egbuna

Many elderly persons in rural communities are not fully informed about the pandemic or how to protect themselves from it. “I thought it was a curse from God to destroy everybody”  – says one of the elderly rights holders of the project on curtailing elder abuse in 11 communities in Enugu State, being implemented by Dewdrop Foundation and Centre for Gender Economics Africa.

Considering the importance of mental health to the wellbeing of older persons, prior to the nationwide lockdown occasioned by the Covid 19 pandemic, we were engaging not less than 900 elders from 11 communities in Enugu State, whom we fondly call Seenagers (i.e. Senior Teenagers or persons aged 60 years and above), in social activities through safe spaces (Seenagers Associations) where they speak to issues of concern to them. The meetings also helped reintegrate the elders into their communities as valuable members. This gave them dignity, hope, and confidence.

Among these elders are men and women who had survived various forms of abuse – physical, sexual, psychological and financial abuse in the hands of their family members, domestic workers, their caregivers, neighbours, strangers or friends to the family. Their monthly Seenagers’ meetings were opportunities for them to mingle with their mates and receive other health related attention. Unfortunately, these meetings can no longer continue and many of the elders have expressed their sadness about this.

Suzanna, one of the Seenagers aged 75 years, who can no longer go out to socialize with her peers said, “I am not happy that the meetings cannot continue for the time being. I always looked forward to them because they gave us so much joy and we felt like human beings again – our voices were being heard and it gave us dignity because many young people of these days have no respect for the elders.”

Although social activities are among the best ways to stimulate the mental health of the elderly, doctors advise that contact with elderly persons be reduced during this COVID-19 pandemic period, as a way of preventing them from getting infected. Some geriatric doctors have advised that the best way to maintain contact with the elderly is through technology. While this suggestion may suit a few educated populations of elders with internet access, the greater questions are ‘How can the health messages be passed on to illiterate or semi-literate aged men and women in the hard-to-reach communities and villages? How do they receive adequate care in these uncertain times?’ The villages are where we find the largest numbers of elderly persons.  About 64% of Nigeria’s population live in rural communities, and the people who have died from COVID-19 so far are mostly older people from 55 years and over (The Cable Nigeria).

By the 2nd week of May 2020, data from the National Centre for Disease Control (NACA)  on the ‘Current Breakdown on COVID-19 in Nigeria by Age and Gender and Deaths’, showed that at least 44 deaths were recorded across the country for persons aged 0-50 years whereas not less than 90 people had died among those aged 51 and above. The coronavirus is the worst public health crisis to have hit the world in a century and older persons are more susceptible to the virus than any other age group. Medical experts have maintained that older adults are at significant risk because of many ailments commonly associated with ageing. WHO statistics show that 95 % of Covid19 deaths are among persons from 60 years and above and more than 50% deaths globally occur in persons 80 years and above.

Indeed, the older generation are an endangered species facing a threat to their existence if thorough measures are not taken to ensure their health and wellbeing are catered to in the foreseeable future. Elderly persons are among the most marginalized groups in Nigeria; yet, there is no law on a comprehensive social welfare and security for them. Across the world and in Nigeria, there has been a significant increase in domestic abuse while under lockdown. The elderly currently face the intersecting threat of domestic abuse and neglect as a result of the lockdown where they stay at home with their abusers.

The coronavirus is the silent killer that we cannot see. We are currently utilizing innovative ways to sensitize elderly persons, and their Caregivers, in Enugu State on safety and preventive measures. However, we cannot achieve this alone. It is therefore important that all aid and assistance being provided in the rural and urban areas by development workers, caregivers, family members and the State or Federal Governments, take into account the various needs of the elderly, who in most cases, are left out of development plans, when crises erupt.

Nneka Acholonu Egbuna is the Assistant Programme Coordinator at Dewdrop Foundation

Contact Info


Abuja Office: 5A River Benue Street, Maitama – Abuja Nigeria

Enugu Office: 24 Bishop Onyeabor Street, Enugu Nigeria

Phone:(+234) 908 016 1319 (+234) 903 311 6601


Subscribe to receive inspiration, ideas, and news in your inbox.

Copyright © 2020. DAMADIMEDIA All Rights Reserved