The National Universities Commission NUC have select Ten universities to run Nigeria’s first-ever graduate programmes in gerontology and geriatrics.

The pilot programmes come amidst concern that increase in absolute number of older persons globally “isgenerating increasing demand for special services,” says NUC executivesecretary Julius Okojie.

“We are looking at a total package for someone who is ageing. Those who are sixty and above, you find it is not just physiological ageing alone.” It is thought people who leave work—from armed services topolice and academics—begin to degenerate after staying idle.”Same thing for professors—that’s why people stay in the system for that long,” he argues.

The thrust is to create new systems that can take care of an ageing population—keep them fit, reduce their workload, ensure their health. The pilot programme seeks to pool relevant disciplines from nutrition and nursing to mental health studies into ageing studies. After briefly meeting with representatives from the ten universities Monday, Okojie said,”We want to draw up a programme to teach elements of the subject that will make us study and research to improve the condition ofliving.”

Geriatrics and gerontology are covered in regular medical, nursing and health courses in schools. But is anyone willing to devote years of postgraduate studies to ageing?
Students in health professions are not exempt from holding misconceptions that are stereotypical about ageing and older people, researcher Boluwaji Fajimilehin reported in the journal Educational Gerontology after a study in Ile-Ife.

Bachelors in nursing science and medical degrees were also reluctant to “specialise in any area related to geriatrics or gerontology,” he added.

The odds are stacked against ageing populations. Their circumstances don’t confer any benefits and legal protection for them in Nigeria is flailing behind what their counterparts are entitledto in other countries.

The recourse is to educate the public “so we know how to take care of our aged,” says Okojie. “We are necessary going to have hospitals and home for the aged, but once the individual is informed, they will know how to take care of their aged.”

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