ONE of the secrets of living to a ripe old age is to prepare for it right from infancy and even while in the uterus during pregnancy.
A public health physician and Former Adjunct Professor in the Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Professor Muriel Ayodeji Oyediran, who gave this assertion, urged Nigerians to adopt the kind of lifestyle in their youth that would enable them live healthily in old age.
Oyediran, who was Guest Speaker at the 2013 Annual Faculty Day lecture, of the Faculty of Public Health, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria,held last week at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba, called for commitment from government at all levels towards provision of conditions that promote qualityof life for the elderly in Nigeria so that they continue to participate in their communities for as long as possible.
“As soon as you can, from your childhood, teens and 20s, prepare for your old age, because you will get old sometime. What you do from childhood influences your state of health later in life, so take care,” she advised.
“You have to start from being a baby, from childhood. Start from breast feeding which is the best for babies. It protects their teeth, bones, and bones. A healthy child is bound to grow into a healthy, normal adult, so if a child is well fed, that child would grow into a healthy normal and long-lived adult.
“It begins from in-utero to birth, because the diet the mother has when she is pregnant affects the health of the child. Start early from pregnancy all the way down, then you may live to 120,” she asserted.
In her lecture entitled: “Even Nigerians Grow Old!: The Problems and Challenges of Ageing in Nigeria”, Oyediran, said it was essential for government to be aware of the increasing financial, social and health needs of the elderly and to be more proactive in providing affordable healthcare for the elderly through health insurance schemes and care homes.
Lamenting the increasing trend abuse, neglect and abandonment of the elderly in Nigeria, she said the problem which was rarely recognized and reported in the past, is becoming an important growing social and public health problem.
“WIth regard to the various economic changes occurring with high unemployment rates, poor economic indices and a general deterioration in living standards, it is likely that the elderly may become an extra source of stress and strain to the family.”
In her view, Oyediran said it is important for caregivers to develop a network of family and friends who can assist with caring. “It is clear there are still many opportunities for health services and care to be provided in the community for the elderly who are either living by themselves or are living with family. “This is a challenge to the local authorities and state governments to improve lives of the elderly by providing them with companionship and suitable activities to keep them mentally, physically and socially active.