A thought for older people and the aged – Emeka Nwolisa

A thought for older people and the aged – Emeka Nwolisa



This is not the best of time for the aged in Nigeria. They are said to be 5.2 percent of the Nigeria population and the figure is expected to hit 6 percent come 2025. 

This would appear to make the aged a minority. But then according to Aaron Levenstein “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” 

The concealed vital information here is the lot of the aged. The country, as it is, is yet to enact and implement a National Policy on the care and welfare of older persons. 

A draft was made in March 2003. However, it appears in the typical Nigerian parlance to have gone into voice mail. 

The aged in Nigeria suffer on several fronts. Pensions are not readily paid, inability to afford medical care and, in some cases, abandonment by children and family. 


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A few states have made comments on provision of free medical care for the aged but as it is ..These can only be classified as tokenism. 


The appropriate standards as enshrined in the charter of the World Assembly on Ageing include the following.


With regards to independence :

Older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help. 

Older persons should have the opportunity to work or to have access to other income-generating opportunities. 

Also, older persons should be able to participate in determining when and at what pace withdrawal from the labour force takes place. 

 Older persons should have access to appropriate educational and training programmes. 

Further, older persons should be able to live in environments that are safe and adaptable to personal preferences and changing capacities. 

Older persons should be able to reside at home for as long as possible. 



A thought for older people and the aged - Emeka Nwolisa


With regards to issues of participation:

Older persons should remain integrated in society, participate actively in the formulation and implementation of policies that directly affect their well-being and share their knowledge and skills with younger generations. 

Older persons should be able to seek and develop opportunities for service to the community. Also, serve as volunteers in positions appropriate to their interests and capabilities. 

Likewise, older persons should be able to form movements or associations of older persons. 


With regards to appropriate care:

 Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection. This is in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values. 

 Older persons should have access to health care to help them to maintain or regain the optimum level of physical, mental and emotional well-being and to prevent or delay the onset of illness. 

Also, older persons should have access to social and legal services to enhance their autonomy, protection and care. 

 Older persons should be able to utilize appropriate levels of institutional care providing protection, rehabilitation and social and mental stimulation in a humane and secure environment. 

Older persons should be able to enjoy human rights and fundamental freedoms when residing in any shelter, care or treatment facility. Including full respect for their dignity, beliefs, needs and privacy. Also, the right to make decisions about their care and the quality of their lives. 


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With regards to Self-fulfilment

Older persons should be able to pursue opportunities for the full development of their potential. 

Older persons should have access to the educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources of society. 


With regards to dignity

 Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse. 

 Older persons should be treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background and disability. Or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution. 

In the words of Zebrudaya Okorigwe Nwogbo – the interesting character in the hit drama series ‘New Masquerade – ‘Here you are’. 

Have we really been fair as a country to our aged?


About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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