By Ikenna Osuoha
Pastor Victoria Onu, Chief Executive Officer of a nursing home, on Sunday in Abuja advocated for immediate end to ageism in Nigeria.
Ageism is stereotyping and or discriminating against individuals or groups on account of their ages.
Onu, also Secretary General, Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that old persons needed love and care rather than discrimination or stereotyping.
“It is not so easy to reach old age; so it is by God’s grace that one attains old age.
“Naturally, at that stage, there are health challenges which require adequate care and love from people around,’’ she said.
Onu, who reiterated the imperative of ending ageism, identified government’s policy, law and educational reorientation, as necessary ingredients to end the stigma.
She lauded the efforts of the coalition of older persons in Nigeria for being instrumental to the enactment of Older Persons Rights and Privileges Bill by the Senate.
According to her, the law will not only empower older persons, but guarantees them constitutional protection in the pursuit of their rights and privileges toward ending ageism.
“Policy and law can address discrimination and inequality on the basis of age and protect the rights of everyone, everywhere,’’ she said.
Onu emphasised the need for educational reorientation which could enhance empathy and dispel misconceptions about different age groups.
“It is appalling that some older persons in some parts of Nigeria today are violated against with stereotypical excuses of witches and wizards,’’ she lamented.
She said that provision of accurate information, adequate care and counter-stereotypical examples could reduce prejudices against old persons.
Onu also stressed the importance of providing adequate care for those who attend to old persons, mostly relatives, to take care of the stresses they go through.
“Caregivers of older persons if not given a breather from their responsibility, would naturally get overworked, irritated and fatigued, resulting in Elder Abuse which is another problem facing older persons today,’’ she stressed. (NAN)