PERCEPTION OF OLD AGE: ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR CARE AND SUPPORT FOR THE AGED AMONG THE ESAN OF SOUTH-SOUTH NIGERIA

Abstract

Author(s): Friday Asiazobor EBOIYEHI·

Nigeria’s population is ageing rapidly. The combination of increasing longevity and the accompanying change in young caregivers’ perception of old age and the aged is having negative impact on care and support for the aged. Yet, there is little or no scholarly work in Nigeria to determine how perception of old age affects elderly care and support. This paper examines how the perception of old age affects care and support for the aged among the Esan people of South-South Nigeria. The study relies on qualitative methods namely; in-depth interviews (IDIs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). In all 32 IDIs and 12 FGDs were conducted on the aged and their caregivers in both urban and rural areas. The results show that the traditional care and support for the aged in the study area is diminishing due to the way the younger generation perceives old age and the aged. The change in perception of old age and the aged is linked to Western influence which is gradually eroding the traditional/cultural belief where the aged were seen in positive light. There is need for cultural re-awakening. This may be carried out within the framework of a creative multi-track social policy intervention that would enable families to continue being the main care providers of the aged.

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