Aging: Do not associate dementia with witchcraft – Dr. Omokaro

By Adodo Osewengie

The Director-General of the National Senior Citizens Centre, Dr. Emem Omokaro, has said that dementia should not be treated by society as a characteristic of witchcraft but associated with the resultant effect of old age.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Abuja, she revealed that most of our old parents today suffering from this illness in the society are treated with disdain, disgust, maltreated, and stigmatized, which obviously, the case should have been the reversed.

According to Dr. Omokaro, society has been so poorly oriented on the symptoms familiar with aging that they choose to see old persons suffering from this disorder as witches and wizards.

The Director-General highlighted an incident of a female Professor and a former commissioner from the south-south region who suffered from dementia but was disgraced, humiliated, and stripped naked.

Dr. Omokaro disclosed that massive advocacy campaigns and programmes to reorient the people, especially the youths, will be carried out by the National Senior Citizens Centre in a bid to put an end to this ignominious trend and stigmatization.

In her statement, she said, “A lot of older persons are going through abuse, stigmatization, isolation, and maltreatment based on their dementia condition.

“There is a case of a female professor in the South-South Region of the country that was stripped naked, humiliated, and shamed because of her dementia situation. This is a former commissioner. It is that bad.

“There are a lot of similar cases in all parts of the country where older persons with dementia are being abused on false notions that they are either witches or wizards.

“We are going to take action on dementia. People should know that aging is a condition of living and it is a blessing to be aging because many people die at a young age.

“Ageing is an opportunity, when someone is ageing, it means he or she is living. So, we need to dignify and respect them.

”There is a need to add value to aging and that is what the NSCC is all about. Don’t despise an older person, they have a lot to offer the younger ones,” Omokaro stressed.

“We will get the youths to understand via advocacy and inter-generational livelihood forum that aging is a population; give yourself 20 to 30 years, that is where you are.

“In most of our programmes, we try to create linkage between senior citizens and youths. For instance, in the centre, we need the youths to come in as volunteers and update their digital skills and capacity.

“Both the youths and older persons would volunteer to work for the centre and get paid. Thus, carrying the youth along,” she reiterated.

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