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What to know and avoid as you move past age 40 -Geriatrician

Dr. Ogugua Osi-Ogbu, a Consultant Physician and Geriatrician at the National Hospital, Abuja, has cautioned against discrimination of the elderly in the society.

The medical practitioner said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), at an event organised for the elderly in Abuja.

The event was organised by Axios Senior Citizens Foundation (ASCF), an NGO working for the care of the elderly, to commemorate the 2024 Intergenerational Week, celebrated annually between April 24 and May 1.

Osi-Ogbu said that rather than discriminate against the aging group, there should be a deliberate policy framework to guarantee their protection, adding that the older people must have a say.

She called on the elderly not to let other people make decisions for them, but ensure they got the respect they deserved.

“My general advice when we talk about aging is to be mindful of what we say to them, we are in a society where people talk negative about the aging group.

“They say things to them like, ‘your time has gone’, ‘why worrying about them’, ‘why give attention to them’.

“All these are discriminatory and prejudicial. Everyone has a right as far as one is alive, you have a right to freedom of expression, quality healthcare and even employment, if you so desire.

“This set of people must not be discriminated against on the basis of age, so the rights of older persons must be preserved, at the community, family and even institutional level, there must be a deliberate policy framework to protect them,” she stressed.

Osi-Ogbu said older people faced several challenges, such as the eyes, like glaucoma and cataract, while advising people to always carry out regular medical checks once they have attained 40 years of age.

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She said that glaucoma is a condition caused when the pressure of the eyes was higher than normal and could result in blindness, adding that it can be avoided when it is detected early, even cataract also.

According to her, being blind should not be part of age-related challenges.

She added that there were other diseases that could also make older people go blind, saying that access to healthcare would help to avoid old age diseases.

She also taught participants at the event how to prevent hearing loss in old age, saying it was another common thing that was seen in older people.

The medical practitioner called on people to avoid exposing themselves to noisy environment, adding that excessive noise pollution could damage hearing.

She also revealed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) now had its focus on healthy aging, saying that there is an increase in aging all over the world.

In 2020, population aged 60 plus years for Nigeria was 9,300.86 thousand persons.

Between 1971 and 2020, population aged 60 plus years of Nigeria grew substantially from 2,755.97 to 9,300.86 thousand persons, rising at an increasing annual rate that reached a maximum of 3.15 percent in 1981 and then decreased to 2.79 percent in 2020.

Osi-Ogbu said that it is predicted that by 2050, there would be approximately 30 million older people, who are aged 60 and above, the plan is to ensure that they are healthy and stronger, with sound eyes, ears, and able to walk.

She advised the public not to neglect older people with “degenerating joint diseases’’, saying that it is also a common challenge with old age.

She said that such degenerating joint diseases affect the neck, the lower back, the knees, the hips, all these can affect walking or the ability to move as it used to be before.

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The medical practitioner said that people with these challenges get to a point where they require assistance to walk, either with a cane or cane frame, depending on how severe the issue is.

She said that we must provide the devices for these categories of elderly with joint challenges, to overcome their impairment, live longer and contribute their quota.

Earlier, Mrs Murjanatu Habibu, the founder of ASCF, stated that the global intergenerational week was aimed at bridging the gap between generations, creating a world where wisdom met with innovation.

Represented by Alhaji Aliyu Shiru, President, ASCF, she said that it was a week where experience met with curiosity, and where the voices of every age group were heard and valued.

“At ASCF, our focus and theme for 2024 is bringing intergenerational connections. Therefore, this celebration is important to the foundation.,” she said. (NAN)

Aderogba George
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