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 Demographer calls for policies to address challenges faced by elderly persons

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Mr Adebayo Oluwadare, a demographer in Abuja, has called for right set of policies that will equip the nation to address challenges faced by the ageing population.

He made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Monday.

Oluwadare said there was urgent need to evolve policies that would tackle the numerous social and economic challenges faced by the senior citizens.

According to him, the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) reports that the proportion of older persons aged 65 years and above make up 16 per cent of the global population, and will rise by 27 per cent in 2050.

He said that Sub-Saharan Africa, with the smallest proportion of elderly and aging slower than the developed regions, was projected to see the absolute size of its older population increased between 2000 and 2030.

He, therefore, urged government at all levels to evolve policies and programmes toward better nutrition, sanitation, health care, education and economic well-being for citizens.

He added that if the country had well articulated policies that cut across all strata of the population, there may not be need for extra programmes for the aged “as such policies would have taken care of everyone.”

Dr Ibrahim Adeola, a medical practitioner also in Abuja, said that there was an urgent need for policy engineering and prioritising the issues of older persons in the country to improve their living conditions.

He added that this could be done by restructuring the pension scheme and other social policies in Nigeria to favour the elderly, including those who never worked in any government establishment.

According to Adeola, another cause of the increase in the older segment of the Nigerian population can be the declining fertility rate in the country.

He said “ageing causes people to be less active, frail and exposed to more risks of contracting diseases, leading to prejudice or discrimination against the elderly, social isolation and sometimes, abandonment.”

Mrs Mercy Adeojo, an economist living in Abuja, said there was need for Nigeria to have functional national policy on the care and welfare of older persons.

Adeojo said changing demographics in Nigeria and the breakdown of the family structure and absence of a social security system, posed challenges to the elderly in the country.

She said old people had to count on financial support from their children or relatives or to survive as there was no standard policy to cater for them.

She stressed that the traditional emphasis on family-centered care was collapsing rapidly and was not a reliable financial safety net for elderly people.

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