Community of Practice on the Elderly & Eldercare
By Chidinma Kalu On Thursday, March 3, 2022
Are you planning for your old age? This was the reflection prompt with which the session started.
The facilitator began by highlighting those who are considered the elderly in Nigeria. From the session, we learnt that the elderly are individuals aged 60 and above. They are also referred to as “Senagers” which is a coinage meaning ‘Senior teenagers. Participants were also made to understand that there is a vibrant coalition for elderly management in Nigeria who are currently pursuing a national bill for eldercare management to cater to the unique needs of this population.
During the discussion, the grantees from the Dew Drop Foundation, an organization focused on eldercare management, shared their experiences working with elderly people as well as what is required to care for them effectively and these include the following:
- The elderly require favourable policy and legislative action to cater to them as they tend to be the forgotten population in society.
- Many people have described the elderly as witches/wizards and dirty which has led to a dissociation with them.
- In relating with them interpersonally, it is key to be real with them and earn their trust. Let your attitude toward the elderly not be feigned, as they can sense when your attitude is unreal.
- It is important to consider their privacy (Most caregivers believe that elderly people do not need privacy, this leads to bathing them outside, amongst other things, in the presence of people.
- Show you care and be kind to them.
- Take into consideration their health.
- Their opinions matter (Listen to the elderly, especially in taking decisions involving them as their opinions matter).
- Investigate and observe their reaction.
- Elderly people also need companionship, so they need people around them. Most of their spouses are deceased or have children who are no longer with them. This is why having people around is important.
- Even though their strength may fail them, they are the storehouse of knowledge and should not be neglected.
- Bring their grandchildren to visit them.
In this part of the world, most people believe that their children are investments and will take care of them when they are old, and this leads to not making proper plans for retirement or old age. In the end, some of them do not get taken care of or get any return on their ‘investments’ as the children are not there to take care of them. Therefore, an important part of this session was to encourage us to make plans for our old age and not be dependent on our children. We can plan for this through having insurance, investments, and pensions.