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