Older People in Eredo LCDA, as well as others from over 50 countries worldwide, commemorated World Health Day on April 7th.
Here is an update on the day from Mrs. Oluwayemisi Oluwole, CEO of Age Nigeria Foundation.
Odo Noforija, a town in Lagos state, came alive for the older people.
With support from the Eredo Local Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Odo Noforija hosted a Health Awareness Program. Age Nigeria Foundation organized discussions and activities around both physical and mental health.
Older people from all around the Eredo LCDA came together at the Popular Odo Noforija Community Hall. Here they joined a summit on the topic of depression. For the first time, they were able to form a focus group promoting discussion of their own issues. They talked publicly about the impact of depression in later years, on their communities.
Older people meet with the sole administrator in his office.
Representatives of the district’s older people met with the Sole Administrator, the Hon. Muyiwa Okesanya on Tuesday, April 11th. They presented him with a fact sheet on Depression, and discussed their issues of concern. The theme of this year’s World Health day was timely, given a recent series of suicide cases in Nigeria, and Lagos state in particular. Many were linked to depression.
He reiterated his support for the welfare of older people in his area. He encouraged them to stay engaged in their communities and to keep active so that they will be able to contribute to the society.
“We need to acknowledge the need to do more in promoting better health through inclusive and sustainable solutions to all challenges facing our older people. As the fortunes of the council improve, our older citizens will also reap more benefits from the council’’.
Erodo ECDA leads the way in aged care
The day started off with some light exercise for our older friends. Later, they took to the streets of the town to inform the people about Depression. They aimed to increase public awareness of the causes, signs, symptoms and effects of Depression .
Sole Administrator the Hon. Muyiwa Okesanya supported us in hosting this epoch making international event for older people in Lagos state. His is the first Local council/LG to do so. As a result, he put smiles on the faces of many older people in the area.
It is our hope that government officials in other districts will emulate him, so that we can create age friendly communities throughout Lagos State.
Our thanks to the Hon. Muyiwa Okesanya
The older people expressed their gratitude and thanks to the Sole Administrator for supporting a program that will benefit them in their communities. Those who know his background were not surprised to hear that the Hon. Muyiwa Okesanya was instrumental in making a success of the program. They know him as a rare administrator; as someone who has a passion for the welfare of his people. He really cares about the more vulnerable older citizens, who are typically overlooked and neglected by government officials.
Over 150 older people came to this year’s World Health Day in Eredo, donning the T-shirts of Age Demands Action, to go out and inform their compatriots about depression. Other activities included Novelty matches, games and other side shows.
Good news for older Nigerians from the Federal Government
Our celebration coincided with some cheering news from the Federal Government – the president announced that the ageing population will now be included in the Sustainable Development Goals plan.Age Nigeria Foundation will work with other stake-holders, through the Office Of The Special Adviser To The President (OSSAP-SDGS), to ensure that older people in Eredo LCDA will be among the first beneficiaries of such huge opportunities for older people in Nigeria.
Depression is an illness like any other
At the summit, Depression was brilliantly analysed by the older people present.
Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness. A loss of interest in activities they normally enjoy, together with an inability to carry out daily activities for more than two weeks, are the warning signs. Also, any of the following symptoms may also be present:
- a loss of energy
- a change in appetite;
- changed sleep patterns – sleeping more or less
- reduced concentration
- feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness and
- thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
One in twelve older people suffer from major depression in Nigeria. By 2020, it will be the second leading cause of disability in the country. Depression affects all ages, both young and old.
Age Nigeria Foundation encourages healthy aging
The President of Age Nigeria Foundation listed the following programs and activities to promote healthy ageing:
- increased physical exercise
- improved nutrition
- reducing smoking
- reducing alcohol use
- ensuring access to treatment and support, including counselling
- ensuring the safety and security of older people through programs addressing and preventing violence and abuse
- addressing income insecurity through increased access to social pensions
- facilitating older people’s social inclusion and engagement
- recognizing and supporting carers of older people, many of whom will be older people themselves
- tackling ageism within the health sector
- Conscious Raising Seminars on Depression
Older Nigerian’s lived experience of depression
Some of our Older People shared their stories about depression.
Mrs Adekunle, aged 75
“l lost two of my children a few years back and was left alone to fend for myself and take care of my grandchildren at a great age. I had no feasible means of income. That made me depressed, but with some of the things l have learnt today, and meeting my friends here, l will come out of it’’.
Madam Aliu reports that:
“l was once faced with depression when l retired from the civil service. l had no money to survive. When the government paid my pension and entitlements l was happy. l survived depression. Depression is like a blanket that holds you down to your bed. You will not want to come out of it. It affects most of us that we are old, but now with support, we can tackle it’’.
A tour of outlying areas reveals that we must provide more help
In Ilara town, a rich historical town in Ijebu division of Lagos State, close to 300 Older people benefited from free medical treatment, free medicines and toiletries. We also used the opportunity to take the information about Older People and Depression to the nearby communities of Igboye, Eredo, Ibonwon, Mojoda. Age Nigeria Foundation’s Medical Doctors and their team also traveled around. They offered free treatment to those who were too frail or sick to visit us at the Free Medical Camp.
This exercise was the gloomy part of our program. We discovered that some of the sick and frail older people have become very vulnerable. They may not get proper medical care because their family is too poor. Some were in terrible shape. They could not get up from their sick bed without help. Our doctors found that most of them have suffered from Stroke, Diabetes, fractures due to falls, depression and other ailments common to old age. Extreme poverty and loneliness have caused severe depression. Some are just waiting for the warm hand of death to take them away.
Age Nigeria Foundation has resolved to raise funds to provide more medical care. It is our duty because some of those suffering are members of our foundation. They have participated in our previous programs. This is not the time to abandon them.
Mrs. Oluwayemisi Oluwole
Age Nigeria Foundation