Bringing elderly care to the forefront in Nigeria

By Cognito . On Tuesday, October 11, 2022

In Nigeria, there is no functional national policy on the care and welfare of older persons. The inability to take good care of the elderly in our population may lead to huge changes in our demographics and the breakdown of the traditional family structure. It can also lead to the absence of a social security system. The elderly are an invaluable treasure as they represent our greatest connection to history and culture.


Image Credit: Voice Nigeria Project - Community of Practice for Eldercare

October 1st is the International Day for Older Persons, a day to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly. The day was first ratified on 14th  December 1990 by the United Nations General Assembly. The principles on which advocacy and engagement of the elderly would be carried out by various organizations were first adopted in 1991. In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, a global agreement which recognises older people as contributors to the development of their societies, and commits governments to include ageing in all social and economic development policies, including poverty reduction programmes.

In 2019, a global report stated that there were 703 million persons aged 65 or over.  Over the next three decades, the number of older persons worldwide is projected to more than double, reaching more than 1.5 billion persons in 2050. The second fastest increase among all regions is expected to be from sub-Saharan Africa. October 1st, which coincidentally is Nigeria’s Independence day celebration, has since then been marked as the International Day of Older Persons – a day set aside to celebrate elderly persons worldwide.

As ageing sets in, a lot of elderly people develop functional disabilities. According to research, elderly persons have not been given enough priority in health care in Nigeria. Also, there is not much information on eldercare management and the level of unmet need for care of elderly persons living in sub-Saharan Africa. The Community of Practice on Elderly supported by Voice Nigeria carried out a cross-sectional study between November and December 2021 to identify the level of awareness of the needs and challenges of the elderly population in Nigeria with sampling sites across 17 states in the country. The report of the research is now available on the Voice Naija Platform.

One of the recommendations from the study is that elderly care will improve greatly in Nigeria if inclusive and cross-capitalization schemes such as access to social care, pension and healthcare coverage are provided for the elderly.

Understanding the care and support needs of older people will help in categorizing the different levels of care they need and guide planning for programs and interventions that improve their quality of life such as housing, pension and retirement schemes, disability support and health frameworks.


Keywords: elderly

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Cognito .

Cognito Studios is a visual communication and knowledge management focused social enterprise that uses creative communication approaches to achieve program objectives and tell development stories that amplify the voices of the underserved populations.

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