One of the loneliest periods of a person’s life is old age. At this stage, the children are usually all grown up, independent and living elsewhere. If an old person is lucky, they have the companionship of their spouse. Those who do not have any spouse or are widowed have to cope with the silence of their environment. They also usually have to get used to living alone and independently as they likely did when they were young. This can lead to depression as well as health complications in older persons. Ultimately, this kind of situation leads to early death.
Consequently, on February 15, 2023, Senator Eze Ajoku, the President of Coalition of Societies for the Rights of Older Persons in Nigeria (COSROPIN), urged older persons to always be happy and laugh when necessary. He said research had shown that happiness and laughter are vital in maintaining a healthy living, especially among older people. The senator said this during the coalition’s Valentine’s Day celebration with older persons in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Kuchingoro, Abuja.
Sen. Ajoku urged the IDPs to always find what will make them happy.
The senator urged them to not be weighed down by the negative side of life. He asked them to never allow themselves to be excluded from the normal things of life. They should find something that will make them happy and should socialize and have fun. He said, “Remember that this is one day people all over the world are happy. They are happy because they are celebrating good things of life.” He urged them to just smile and laugh if they feel that life is weighing down on them because laughter is medicinal.
COSROPIN President reiterated the coalition’s commitment to surmounting the plight of older persons. He mentioned that the visit was being replicated at the sub-national levels. He described Valentine’s Day as a time to show love as demonstrated by the coalition with donations of food supplies such as rice, noodles, etc. to the older persons in the camp. Mrs. Vivian Ugwu, the Head of Administration, Dewdrop Foundation, also spoke during the event. She described love as a way of sharing in other people’s pain and joy. She acknowledged the foundation to continue to put smiles on the faces of older persons, in collaboration with COSROPIN.
Older persons risk health issues because of loneliness, says CDC.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), loneliness and social isolation is linked to serious health conditions. In older adults, there are serious public health risks, such as dementia. A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) revealed that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. Older adults are at an increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.
Mr. Ishiaku Abdullahi, Chairman of Elders in Kuchingoro IDP camp, expressed heartfelt appreciation to the Ajoku-led coalition for extending hands of love and care to them, seeing that they need it more. He prayed that God should enlarge their coast and grant them the grace to excel in all their endeavors. COSROPIN is made up of associations, civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in areas such as ageing, pension unions, care giving and care institutions, and more.
COSROPIN aims to protect the welfare of older persons in Nigeria.
The coalition has nine major objectives. The prominent one include: to protect the welfare of older persons in Nigeria; uphold their rights in accordance with applicable laws and the constitution of the country; work towards better health and ageing of Nigeria’s senior citizens; encourage inclusion of older persons in every aspect of Nigeria’s public life; promote research into issues pertaining to ageing; and build bridges within and outside the country with relevant authorities, individuals and institutions dedicated to the care of older persons.