THE USEFULNESS AND PROBLEMS OF THE AGED IN NIGERIAN SOCIETY : A STUDY OF OHAUKWU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE
1.1 Background of the Study
Over the years the usefulness of the aged in Nigerian society cannot be overemphasized as sociologist, Anthropologist and non-sociologist have been seriously concerned about the old age and the elderly on their socio-economic welfare. However, some who make time to observe the trend in life from when a “man” is born to when he is dead would notice that certain body functions will increase gradually from childhood and thereafter diminishes as diminishing return sets in on the individual who finds himself in a fix. In some cases, he is deflected, depressed, and lonely, discriminated in social gathering and become relatively poor, but their wealth of experiences and their contribution towards the economic and socio-economic development of our society cannot be over looked. These observations gingered such observer’s interest in the study of the processes of ageing (gerontology).
Therefore, the aged have been defined as persons who have reached or attained the age appropriated by a given society which may differ from one society to the other and country. This may be 55, 65, 75 years and above (Akobundu, 2005).
According to Oxford dictionary, aging has been defined as a process occurring throughout life; also it has been seen as a process of physical and psychological increment or decrement that occurs with the passage of time. In Nigeria for example persons in this category are made to retire from their employment. This phenomenon of retirement is best explained by Parker (1982) as he stated that institution of retirement existed because of the fact that at that age most people are perceived unfit to work effectively.
Although, it may be possible that some persons at the age of retirement can still be effective in the discharge of their official duties, but due to the age limit the individual must retire regardless of his or her abilities.
In Nigeria traditional society, the aged do not experience poverty because there was extended family system where parents’ children and grand-parents lived together. They interacted with the benefits to one another and parents made adequate and necessary material provision and make sure that special care needed by household is made available. This was possible because the society is based on kingship which enhanced group solidarity and reverence for the aged.
The general situation which prevailed at that time made people to aspire to old age (Onyeneke, 1989).
Moreover, as a result of urbanization and industrialization emphasize on nuclear family has brought about increase in the movement of the youths and physical isolation of the aged as well as their relevance in the political, social and economic spheres of our society. Thus, in Nigeria today, the traditional function of the family has decreased and no satisfactory social organization has been developed to replace it (Cowgit, 1974).
In other words ageing occurs throughout life and every human experiences age as soon as we live. People believe that ageing begins when growth and maturation stops. The various theories of ageing, the explanation of the process of ageing are an indication at the complexity of the problem. Biologically, they observe several varieties of one’s sense of hearing, can be as good as that of a person of several years ones junior while the liver functions may rise far ahead. Socially and psychologically, the situation is the same in physical, psychological and social decrement need not to occur together at the same rate. This phenomenon that makes the study of ageing complex.
Meanwhile, biologically speaking ageing means the increasing inability of a person’s body to maintain itself and perform its operations psychologically. It means the slowing down of one’s rational and emotional, it means relinquishing every active and often positively viewed roles in the society for more positive ones.
1.2 Statement of Problem
This social consciousness of many governments particularly in sub-Saharan Africa is very bad. In Nigeria for instance a policy on aged has been lacking because of the erroneous impression that hit Nigeria as it has no ageing problems. Therefore, attention should be joined on the youths and population (Iremeh, 1991:3). The policy makers who believed that because of limited resources and their actions is to focus on the most pressing needs and the provision for the aged and their welfares are abandoned, (Ongenae, 1989).
Moreso, in Nigerian society where the responsibility of caring for the needs of the aged are allowed for the children of that aged parents as a result of their important roles they play as elder states man and their wealth of experiences. The caring of these aged parents may not be actualized by their children because of poor economic conditions and their welfare is not met.
Again in Nigeria, there is overwhelming increase of the aged, that it has become a problem of providing for them for instance, in 1991, population census, the aged constituted over 30% of the total population in Nigeria and 37% in 2006 census and the figure was filled in 2011 Nigeria population commission (2012).
Finally, in Nigeria government, policy on the provision of the social welfare services have minimally affect on the aged and the regulation payment of final entitlement, pension, gratuity that are paid regularly is made up of 5% of the population and to large majority of the self-employed (Iroendi, 1991) and some do not have anything to care or support themselves.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions are formulated to guide the study:
(i) How do the people of Ohaukwu perceive the aged?
(ii) What are the roles of the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
(iii) What are the major causes of ageing in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
(iv) What is the prevalence of the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
(v) What are the basic problems facing the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
(vi) What are the basic traditional ways of taking care of the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area?
(vii) How can the problems of ageing and the aged are tackled effectively.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
(i) To ascertain how people of Ohaukwu perceive the aged.
(ii) To determine the roles of the aged towards the development of Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
(iii) To examine the major causes of ageing in our society, precisely in Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
(iv) To determine the prevalence of the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
(v) To determine the problems facing the aged in our society.
(vi) To examine the traditional ways of caring for the aged in our society especially in Ohaukwu Local Government Area.
(vii) To determine and evaluate the solutions to the problems facing the aged in our society.
1.5 Significance of the Study
Theoretically, this study will be a contribution to the body of existing knowledge on the usefulness and problems of the aged in Ohaukwu Local Government Area and help those who will try to carryout a similar research work on the issue.
Practically, the study will be of benefit, to educate the people of Ohaukwu on the usefulness and problems associated with the aged in their society. It will equally help the government especially state and Local government to realize the need to properly integrate the elderly and their problems for the grass root development and governance in the society and to the non-governmental organizations this study will educate them and give them the insight why it is good for them to participate actively in solving the problems of the aged.
1.6 Operationalization of Terms
To ensure clear understanding of this work some concept has been defined.
– Ageing: This refers to all the regular changes that take place in biological nature of human or process of growing old by human beings.
– Aged person: This refers as a person who has attained the specified aged limit as known by the society.
– Ageing population: This refers as the population or a given population that falls into the age categories of 65 years and above.
– Peripheral: It means the skeletal view of the aged and without showing concern.
– Prevalence: What that happens or exist among the aged population in general.
– Gerontology: It refers to the science study of the aged and the elderly people.
– Urbanization: It is the structural changes and development of the society.
– Institutionalization: It refers to as the classification of the society base on the aged, the young and the siblings.