Uncle Nathaniel lived to be one hundred years or more. When he was born there was no adequate record-keeping, so we can’t be categorically sure of his precise age when he passed on only a few weeks ago.
His immediate family cared for him the best they could. They hung with him for decades after he became incapable of helping himself. Though his memory was as sharp as a tack, he was frail, blind and hard of hearing.
But then their care for him began to wane. They needed support in caring for him, especially respite care to relieve the burden. Except for a few visitors who came to see him, for many years before his death my uncle was socially isolated, sitting on a low couch, a wooden table in front of him. An eight year old boy would serve him food and lead him to bed at night.
I last visited him in December 2014. I thought he needed more than food to eat and a bed to sleep in; he was worth more than that to me and the community.
Uncle Nathaniel was not alone in this predicament. Many of our elders are forgotten in the twilight of their lives when they are at their most vulnerable.
It was out of this visit, and many more like it, that Elders Helping Hands was born to help Nigerian seniors live out their lives with pride and dignity.
Our immediate goal is to establish a visiting program that would assist elders in their routine chores.
Elders Helping Hands intends to arrange for two or three responsible Helping Hands companions to visit an elder in their home. Upon arrival, the staff would help out with tasks such as housekeeping, food preparation, safety checks, companionship, taking a walk, refuse disposal, and so forth.
Imagine if my uncle had had two capable aides who came every week to stay with him for half a day. To chat with him, to listen to his stories – he loved to tell stories – to clean him up and massage his feet with okwuma and shea butter.
Think of the pleasure an elderly man (or woman, or couple) would have with such capable aides at their side for half a day.
Imagine how happy they would be, knowing that their children had not forgotten them in the twilight of their lives.
Word of mouth would fuel our services. An elder who receives our assistance recommends an elderly neighbor; word will spread, needs will arise, and Elders Helping Hands will be there to fulfill those needs.
In addition to this community support program, Elders Helping Hands have a long-term goal. It is to build an elder recreation center, the first in Nigeria, where our elders can have fun; play Scrabble and Ludo, talk and reminisce, maybe do some gardening and light physical activities.
Join us to help our valued seniors in the sunset of their lives. For as little as $20, we can get two or three responsible Helping Hands companions to help an elderly man, woman or couple for a day.