Americans view the challenges of their elders as a collective societal issue worthy of addressing. Nigerians, on the other hand, still see the elder predicament as primarily a family responsibility, and hence do not have a unified approach.
Senior centers do not exist in my town, or in my local government area, or in Imo, my state of origin. Every day is a struggle for elders who do not have a caring, capable family member. Even when they do, relatives caring for elderly parents tire after a while and need respite.
Furthermore, nowhere is the absence of children and relatives more detrimental to the elders than in my hometown, and I guess by extension the whole of Nigeria.
When ankles begin to ache, and knees buckle, and backs grind to painful immobility, older people become even more vulnerable. The comparative prospect of dealing with these problems is like day and night in developed and developing countries.
Seniors in Nigeria lack money to hire aides. Social security benefits, as occur in the United States, are a fiction in Nigeria. Care falls squarely on the family, and in no time they become exhausted caring for their elderly relative.
Tied to the misery seniors suffer in Nigeria is the absence of electricity. They cannot turn on a light with the flick of a wall switch. Too frail to strike a match and light candles, seniors grope their way to beds and bathrooms, risking falls, head and hip trauma.
While citizens of rich countries like America, and Japan enjoy longevity, the rest of humanity, especially those living in perpetually poor countries are still at the precipice of extinction?
The problems seniors in both worlds face are similar in nature, although unfortunately there is no concerted effort to address the problems facing Nigerian elders. In both worlds, older people could use more socialization, more exercise, and more money at their disposal.
I imagine a future where elders in my hometown could have aides to take them to the bathroom, help them with chores, provide a safe environment and keep them company.
Canes for short distances, a safe environment, access to prompt medical care, and help with ascent and descent on staircases are all interventions that could make dramatic changes in the life of elders in Nigeria.
No older person should struggle because family members are incapable of taking care of them. Our organization is doing the best we can, sending motivated staff to help elders with vital household chores and personal hygiene.
Please join us on this lifetime journey and donate today.
Anselm Anyoha MD