The Eldercare In Developing Countries – Nigeria a test case

A pictorial illustration of the elder generation of developing countries.

The Eldercare In Developing Countries – Nigeria a test case

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Pictorial illustration of elder generation of developing countries.


Statistics from the  Population Division [UNDESA], the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs projects that the current populations of the elderly and young people will increase with the elderly, 60 years and above rising approximately to 22% by 2050 and even may surpass young generation’s in the same period. 

Therefore Nigerian elders, a number in the UN calculation may also see a significant rise. But by how much? The answer will still be a postulation. Why, may you ask? 

Nigeria has no credible record of the older generation or knows the economic and social needs. This vacuum’s surprising reason was that Nigeria had not conducted a reliable and acceptable census in the post-colonial era. 

But Nigeria has educated and trained human resources to do the job, you may ask? Go to any part of the globe, and you will meet Nigerians engaged in the country’s nation-building. 

Statistics show that 75% of Nigerians living in America have at least a bachelor’s degree. Check out the achievements of these men and women and what makes them tick in science and technology. Impressive!

The pieces of information expressed in this post are mine – the experiences I gained from being born and raised in Nigeria lived in Ghana for some time and abreast of the events in the country.

Also, I must acknowledge the pieces of information gathered from the world health organization and the United Nations. Data from visitors to these nations are unreliable because some people profit from exaggerations and falsehood. 

This post focuses on older peoples’ welfare in developing countries, using Nigeria as a test case. 

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The Question.

But why is Nigeria like a ship abandoned at sea when it comes to caring for its elders in particular and the country’s general population? Corruption! Tribalism! and the need-level of their ruling class. 

These three factors combined have stiffened the citizens’ upward mobility and created a nation where one is either poor or rich, and there is no in-between. The elderly were most affected.

Did Nigeria get it wrong what they learned from its colonial masters? You begin to wonder!

Bear in mind that developed and wealthy countries like Europe, America, China, etc.,  have the resources, including financial, functioning security systems, income security, infrastructure, housing availability, and long-term health care services. 

Each portfolio has a department solely devoted to cater to its elderly. And why not Nigeria? Corruption, tribalism, and etc. are the answers to that question.

You only need to live in one of not all African countries to comprehend these countries’ shabby management. As the saying goes, “What you experience in one country is almost the same in another country.” Exceptions are those countries whose rulers have the moral bearing, integrity, and the interest of their countries at heart. 

 The Situation On the Ground

In Nigeria, until recently, social support for older adults outside the family was nonexistent. It was the duty (an obligation) of the family, particularly the aging parent’s sons, and daughters, to care for their parents. 

Older citizens with many landed property and many children, particularly male children, enjoyed special privileges of honor and respect in their communities. They strived to bring up their children well – the males well established in life, and the females married well.


A family with a lot of landed property and the children well-established in life was considered rich. Without these, a family was labeled poor.  At old age, the elderly parent passes on his property (or shared), among the male children, with the first son taking the father’s position in normal circumstances. 

As it is known today, money was not really needed then but in the hands of a tiny few who had worked in the ‘government.’ And, as such received irregularly-paid pensions. 

Health and healthcare were managed by the indigenous health system, controlled by the ‘native’ doctors. These people cured with natural herbs. Their method of curing diseases persists today. 

I have already mentioned the elements that defined wealth. The opposite is poverty.  

A son/daughter that raised their hands on the parent; they believed the gods punished them. 

The Effects Of The New Order On the Elderly

These beliefs and attitudes mentioned above were, unfortunately, supplanted by the western cultures and idealism. Luckily for the societies, the transformation did not permanently erase the old order but relegated it to the background – not forgotten. 

How did all these happen, you may ask? Masterful manipulations by the custodians of the new order. And before you know it, the younger generation was at war with the older generation. That led to the collapse of the way it had been.

The Victims 

The victims? The indigenous culture; the elderly parents who suddenly found themselves abandoned, poor, and neglected. Their former power, respect, and influences aging parents wielded, gone. 

These were the outcomes of introducing Western cultures – money, religion, lifestyle, healthcare system, western form of government, the justice system, etc.

Now, to make money and get rich, western education is the starting point. You need money to access the healthcare system, which generally was available in the urban areas, miles away from the rural areas. 

Transportation and social infrastructure are not anything to write home about. But with education, you will live in the cities where work exists and homes furnished with modern conveniences. 

Occupied by an eight-hour full-time job, you can only pay visits to your aging parents in the villages and send money to them when you can. To lessen the burden of neglect and abandonment, some children may decide to live with and care for either of the parents wherever they are located. 

The health care for older people and their general welfare are neglected, not a government’s priority, and left to the families. 

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Final Thought

The plight of the aging seniors in Nigeria and third-world countries (with few exceptions) is inhumane considering the number of natural resources and available human capital.

Would their fate have been better if there was no interference in their culture? I would say yes, factoring in the way it was before the introduction of alien ways of life.

There are many cultures on earth, each good for the citizens that established them. The problem arises if a culture is imposed on or made to supplant another. (Time Out – 2018)

There were some unacceptable practices in the cultures of the developing world. What culture did not have such? And also, like other cultures, things would have corrected themselves with time.

But the level of corruption, tribalism, and callousness made matters worse. As in many other countries, the hope of Nigeria should be in the young generation for a better future. These young people will put their feet down against corruption, bad governance, and above all, demand accountability from their leaders.

But what about Nigerian youths – children brought up under corruption, with a low-quality education, healthcare, including nutrition, etc.? Hope is not lost, however. I still believe in the resilience of Nigerian young men and women! They will rise to the occasion.

Please Leave Comments/Reply

Please share your thoughts about this post in the Comment section below.   I would love to read them! If you have some experiences about eldercare in any developing country and prefer to share them here, you are welcome.




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