The current situation of old people in Nigeria solicits for swift and prompt intervention of law. Many of the aged people in Nigeria are exposed to serious discrimination, depression, inaccessibility to health services, separation and abandonment. It is noteworthy to know that aging is a natural phenomenon, therefore a prompt attention from the government is needed for establishment of Elder Law in Nigeria to cater for the wellbeing of the aged. The paper is divided into six parts, the introductory part explaining and defining elder care and what it is in Nigeria presently, the scope covered by elder law, the position of elder law in developed countries, the current challenges in respect of eldercare and elder law in Nigeria and the way forward.
The access to education and the recent improvements in medical field across the globe have not only contributed to the development of many nations in the world today but it has likewise increased the lifespan of people, of which Nigeria is not an exception. Morbidity rate has been minimised through discovery of vaccines that reduce and cure many incessant outbreak of life taking sicknesses.
Ageing is a natural phenomenon. Proper care and attention need to be given to persons who have been kind to by life to experience old age. This is because ageing causes people to be less active, frail, and exposed to more risks of contracting a disease, leading to prejudice or discrimination against the elderly, social isolation, and, sometimes, abandonment. The increase in the number of elderly people in Nigeria lacks attention from the government and this indeed cries for urgent consideration.
The aged – elderly – are those who are undergoing depreciation physiologically, mentally and at this stage are incapable of doing most chores without help or assistance. Ageing is a process of becoming elderly, usually from the age of 60 years upward. Elderly care, or simply eldercare, is the fulfillment of the special needs and requirements that are unique to senior citizens. This broad term encompasses such services as assisted living, adult day care, long-term care, nursing homes, hospice care, and home care. Elder care comes in to cater for the depreciation in the life of aged people and to stop or check elder abuse.
Africans generally are very respectful and responsible people who took care of their elderly irrespective of whether they were related biologically or not and this is as a result of their culture as well as the age-long tradition, which encourages participatory activity such as care-giving within the family and community. In Nigeria, taking care of ones elder or parents is seen as one of the ways of receiving optimum blessing from God, they believe that prayers from parents or elders are potent. And on the other hand, where parents are disregarded, it is also believed that curses from such parents would have effect on those who disregarded them. However, the process of modernization and urbanization are beginning to erode the traditional social welfare system of Africa and the extended family.
The Nigeria government on the other hand has caused so much to this heartache. Even though, the Nigeria pension scheme demands restructuring, many who worked with the government and are entitled to gratuity are either denied the right or not given in time. Consequent to this, many of them die within a short time after retirement. Furthermore, the abuse elderly people are subjected to in the society is another concern. Many aged people are tagged with names like witches and wizards, particularly where the aged woman experiences several children’s death. She becomes the mockery of the society, beaten, shamed and isolated with no one to care for her. Many in this shame and injury die.
The rate at which the Nigeria elderly population increases and their vulnerability to abuses, discrimination, homelessness, suffering of various kinds, solicit for the intervention of the government to invoke an Elder Law in this country.
Damilare Adeoye, Esq is a Legal Associate at First Counsel Solicitors,.
He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Medical Law Research & Development (CMLRD), a member of Amnesty International, Human Rights Defender (HRD) and World Association for Medical Law (WAML), among others.
Ogundele Samson Abayomi, Esq is a legal practitioner, who has sworn interest in IT law and Elder care law. An associate at Rotimi Jacobs and co.