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Experts Advocate Legislation Against Abuse Of Elders In Nigeria 

Daud Olatunji

The Provost and Medical Director, Neuro psychiatric Hospital, Aro,Abeokuta, Dr. Paul Agboola and the Executive Director of the Centre on Ageing Development and Rights of Older Persons, Olayinka Ajomale have Advocated legislation against abuse of  elders in the country.

The experts spoke at the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) 2024 ceremony held at the Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Abeokuta, 

Both Agboola and Ajomale spoke on the theme,“Prioritizing the Dignity, Safety, and Well-being of the Elderly in an Era of Rapidly Changing Demographics lamented the high rate of neglect and abuse of elders in the country, warning against continuos abuse and neglect of the elders .

Agboola  proposed the introduction of laws mandating care for the elderly, potentially involving the government taking over part of the property of those placed in old age homes, similar to practices in the United Kingdom. 

He said “such laws would make it compulsory for offspring or beneficiaries of the property to care for the elderly while they are alive, not just after they have passed away.

 Dr. Agboola explained,”if the government needs to take care of an elderly person’s property, part of it must be taken over by the government.”

Agboola,who spoke with newsmen about the pressing issue of elder abuse.

 He pointed out some signs of elder abuse, including scars on the body and noticeable weight loss in the elderly while their caregivers appear healthier.

He said “Elderly individuals may feel intimidated to speak out about their abuse. For those of us with aged family members at home, it is crucial to spend time with them and ensure their well-being. Installing CCTV at home can also help monitor their safety,” Dr. Agboola advised. 

He warned that elder abuse is a significant issue that, if not addressed, could impact future generations as well.

Dr. Agboola also emphasized that while there are laws in place to protect against various forms of violence, including elder abuse, the challenge lies in the implementation and enforcement of these laws. 

“Our problem is not about the law but about the implementation of that law, ensuring that nobody is above the law, no sacred cows.”

In his  keynote address,Ajomale  highlighted the urgent need to systematically tackle the abuse of older adults. 

He emphasized that challenging abuse within families, communities, and society at large would significantly improve the quality of life for present and future generations.

“Older persons are a valuable resource and should be considered in every strategy, business projection, development plan, and discussion, especially when it concerns them,”  Ajomale stated. 

He called for a cultural shift in how old age is perceived, advocating for it to be seen positively as an impactful phase of life benefiting various sectors of society and our culture.

He encouraged older individuals to see themselves as change agents, starting by addressing their own mindsets. 

“Older persons should not view themselves as ‘spent and useless’ or a burden to society. To combat the challenge of abuse, older persons must lead, especially those who have firsthand experience of the consequences.”

Ajomale further stressed the need for education and knowledge to eradicate the systematic maltreatment of the elderly. 

“The elders have to combat negative prejudices and modify culturally based behavior patterns that see older persons in a negative light,” he said. 

He concluded with a powerful reminder, “Whatever the society or government does for you is not a privilege but a right. You have done your part, let all others do theirs.”

PLATFORM TIMES reports the WEAAD 2024 ceremony in Abeokuta served as a crucial platform to highlight the issues faced by older persons and the need for society to prioritize their dignity, safety, and well-being.

 

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