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AGCare wants government to partner NGOs to cater for the elderly

As Nigeria’s population continues to increase, so is the nation recording huge number of its citizens advance to elderly age which demands care for them to live fulfilled lives.

An elderly is a citizen who is 60 or 65 years and above and the government at all levels in the country, are called upon to assist in catering for them, especially the less privileged, to save them from dying due to lack of care.

Ifeoma Monye, co-founder of the Abundant Grace (AGCare) Living Foundation, said the federal and state governments should support non-governmental organisations in the country to succeed in their humanitarian work that ensures the elderly persons are well catered for.

In an interview with BusinessDay in Asaba, Monye, a co-trustee and the chief executive officer (CEO) of the non-profit-making organisation, said her team has gone as far as establishing an elderly home in Delta State and has continued to partner with individuals and organisations to achieve its targets of catering for and saving the lives of the elderly.

One of such partnerships was the recently concluded 2nd edition of Charity Golf Tournament sponsored by AGCare in collaboration with the Association of Professional Golfers of Nigeria (APGAN).

The tournament, which held at the Ibori Golf and Country Club, Asaba, Delta State, ended up with the champion, Solomon Ideriah receiving N624,000.00 while other well-performed professional golfers also received cash rewards to better their living standards.

Also, the amatuer golfers who played in the tournament and performed well, were given plaques, a gesture meant to recognise their hard work and encourage them in the course of golfing.

The tournament served as an avenue to raise funds to cater for the elderly in the society.

The success of the event was also attributed to not just the AGCare’s partnership with APGAN but also the collaboration it enjoys with health and hospitality sector, food and beverages sector, business and economic sector as well as the media industry amongst others.

The event, which drew personalities from the public sector, also saw the old Bendel States (Delta and Edo) united in lending support to AGCare initiatives as well as pledging continued commitment to the cause of the elderly.

State and federal governments are trying but let them partner with organisations like AGCare because government cannot do it all alone. With such partnership, we would be able to impact more lives, Monye told BDSunday.

With theme of the tournament, ‘Swing for a Cause’, she expressed hope that the organisation would raise enough to expand its operations, accommodate and care for some of the underserved in the host community (Onicha-Ugbo in Delta State), a lovely countryside home in the state which is just a few minutes’ drive from Asaba, the state capital.

The journey so far

Monye stated, “Over the years, AGCare Foundation has made tremendous progress in fulfilling our goal of providing a safe and serene home for the elderly in Nigeria.

Last year, we hosted our first fundraiser and created awareness about the need for elderly care in Nigeria. The support we received served as a catalyst in achieving our goal.

“The elderly people home is a full time home where you have staff 24 hours a day, 24-hour-electricity, water, DSTV, serene environment. Now, we have private rooms and shared rooms.

“We find out that those (residents) whose family rented one room want to be in other rooms with the other people. That is, they want to share room and they have the outdoor space where they do their exercise. We have doctors and nurses who check on them to ensure they are in good health and whether they need all sorts of care like therapy, massaging; etc. All those are provided.”

Why elderly care home?

The CEO explained the reason behind the decision behind running an elderly home: “We noticed that society is changing. A lot of people are trying to leave Nigeria to United Kingdom, Canada, United States of America (USA), etc. And one of the things we saw was that a lot of younger people were worried about their aged parents left at home with no one really taking care of them; or that they were not sure in terms of standard care given.

“We said okay, this is something new because people don’t really have elderly care home since they have family relatives, but the younger ones are moving abroad, can we get home where they know their parents could be taken care of? We asked ourselves. They said they would be able to see their aged parents on the CCTV and be sure that they are being fed; and that they have a community of people that are with them to socialise as socialisation could make them live longer. That’s why we launched the home.”

Read also: Oyo approves establishment of special healthcare centre for the elderly

Changing the negative narrative

African mentality seem to be a factor discouraging people from allowing their parents stay at elderly people’s homes but Monye said that with sensitisation, the narratives are being changed as people are beginning to accept the new normal.

“A lot of people when they hear old people home, say they don’t do that. But things are changing. So, when we explain to them, they accept the reality. Now, we are getting a lot of people who bring their elderly to the home for care.

“For instance, a couple called and informed us that they were travelling abroad for a year and they don’t have a place for their grandma. All they wanted was where to take the grandma to for proper care; hence, they asked us to do that for them.

“So, things are really changing and people are beginning to adapt to the changes in our society. I thought it’s going to take a lot longer for people to change their mentality about elderly people’s home but the response I’m getting has been encouraging.”

According to her, “We must let people know that the situation is practical and realistic. Our younger ones (children, grand-children) must have reason to leave home, especially economic reasons, thereby leaving them (the elderly) at home with nobody to care for them.

“There was an instance somebody complained to me that they were paying a relative to take care of their aged mother while she was out of the country. They didn’t know she was coming back and according to her, on arrival, she saw her mother in a bad condition.

“Those are the things. Most times, people want to stay at home and look after their parents but in this economy, it is not realistic. People have to work and often, they must leave where they are to other places but their aged parents don’t want to leave their home town.

So, it’s something that is now becoming part of our society where somebody has to take care of their elderly ones.”

Elderly people’s home not for the rich only

People erroneously believe that elderly people’s home is exclusively for the rich but Monye has debunked that, saying, “There is hope for the less privileged in the home. There are those who can afford to pay for the services we render while there are some who cannot. That is why we are raising funds to be able to pay for those that can’t afford to pay so that they too can have full-time care. What that means is that those who are buoyant are supposed to pay while those who can’t afford the services, we would be able to raise money for them.”

Sensitisation is key

“We keep sensitising people. We’ve gone to different churches, communities, clubs, as well as using the media to be able to explain for the public understand. That’s why we have organised tournaments where we spoke to people that understand it; to spread the word,” she said.

Revealing more, she said: “Our home is also open for people to come and see so that they could have an understanding of what it looks like. When they (the elderly) come, they see like-minds people and people of their age that they would be able to have conversation with.”

Conclusion

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu may have said it all at the tournament, when he remarked that the cause of the elderly is something anyone who wants longevity should not toy with. Therefore, those at leadership positions across the country should ensure that people who bear the burden of caring for the elderly are given the needed support by government. That way, it is believed there would be a healthier society where attaining elderly age would be a thing of joy rather than painful phase of life.

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