By Gabriel Olawale
In the effort towards better care and health for the elderly, the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, FIIRO, Oshodi, in collaboration with Dave Omokaro Foundation, DOF, teamed-up with stakeholders to assess the welfare of the elderly and commenced review of policies that would advance their health and well-being into old age.
At a symposium in Lagos, Professor of Nutrition, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Prof. Tola Atinmo said a lot of people see the elderly people as a problem and find it difficult to understand them which in turn makes them feel out of place in the environment.
“There are some processes in life which one has to pass through when advancing into old age which includes loss of strength that makes movement slower, loss of appetite, loss of memory and what used to be normal when they are young becomes strenuous. As if this is not enough, financial burden with fixed or limited income which denied them opportunity to some demand and lack of transportation which forces them to rely on people to move from one place to another.”
Atinmo regretted that while suffering from all these hardships in an increasingly hostile, competitive and intolerant society, majority of older people’s income are spent on health rather than any other need or activities.
On his part, the Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Prof. Temitope Alonge who was represented by Dr. Olufemi Olowookere asserted that the inability to cope with government’s irregular payment of pension to retired work force, inadequate social services, and health facilities to cater for the need of an aging population as well as the predominantly rural agrarian population has constituted new threat to food security, social security and national security of Nigeria.
“Older people constitute the poorest group in Nigeria society. The implementation of millennium development goal by Nigeria government has little or no consideration for them. Having this rate of poverty and hunger by 2015 without seriously considering the older people will affect the success rate of the otherwise well complete plan.”
He, however, recommended adequate nutritional state as a pre-requisite for special therapy to have optimal effect no matter what measure is going to put in place in area of care for the elderly.
“Once this area is deficient there is a problem and since the prevalent of disease increases rapidly with advancing, then nutrition is of special importance to these people. Also there is need to enact policy and programme that will enhance the health independent, productivity and security.
Lending voice to the issue, the Director General of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo posited that his institution will not relent in its mandate of ensure that Nigeria has food and nutrition secured which targets various group.
“The Institute has taken up the challenges of conducting research into some indigenous food crops some of which have been developed into products that can be used to reduce the incidence of the disease and enhance the wellbeing into old age. We have also come up with a data of the blood sugar of elderly and how it can be control with the use of some product coming out from our research endeavor,” she added.
Contributing, Dr. Emem Omokaro, Eexecutive Director, Dave Omokaro Foundation hinted that the care for an elderly people can be transformed into job creation.
“The policy trust of government being to create employment for the youth, we see a situation where we can exploit the opportunity in ageing where we can create entrepreneur model in ageing. For instance, we can pool graduates who have studied social work, micro biology, community medicine and build their capacity to provide this services but carve it in an entrepreneur model,” she observed.