Christmas is here again. The charitable season where most people attempt to show love to vulnerable people around us.
Extending our love to fellow neighbours is laudable and reaching out to care for the needy is great but while doing it, we must take into cognisance how to express care without bringing up old wounds.
As we go about reaching out to orphans, people living with one form of impairment or the other, convalescents, patients in hospitals, prisoners, older people, etc., we must be sensitive around them, discard expressions of pity on our faces, and be cheerful.
Also, possibly ask beforehand from their carers what you are allowed to do while visiting, for instance, questions allowed/disallowed, limitations/boundaries, gifts allowed/disallowed e.t.c.
However, for this short piece, I would like to emphasize visiting old people’s home in Nigeria.
First, a lot of people are unaware that there are such homes in the Nigerian society. Though few, they are doing their best to care for our older adults. Due to the bonding family culture inherent in most African countries, it is usually unheard of or seen as a taboo for families to outsource the care of their older adults to care homes. But we need to face reality as times are changing and with the increasing population of older people globally, older people are bound to be neglected and live lonely lives. In order to prevent this, some families make sure their loved ones are cared for by professional carers in retirement homes and prefer not to tell friends because of the stigma attached or the irresponsibility stance attributed to filial piety in the Nigerian culture and the backlash that comes with it.
Back to our charitable acts this Christmas season, when visiting old peoples’ homes, please try to follow these simple guidelines (This is exclusively for homes in Nigeria):
- It is very important to ask and follow the directives given by the manager of the home.
- Be cheerful and have a smile on your face as you go about distributing gifts to them.
- Greet them respectfully in English or their local languages, if you are fluent.
- Bless them and pray for good health.
- Appreciate the carers and staff of the homes.
- Sing or play games with them, if allowed.
- DO NOT take their pictures but you can take pictures with staff/carers, if allowed.
- DO NOT ask about their families/friends (it is not your business).
- DO NOT ask if their carers are doing a great job taking care of them(you don’t have a right to).
- DO NOT try to help them to do any task except you are given permission by staff and you are supervised while at it.
- DO NOT ask if they need anything.
- RESPECT boundaries and do not wander off into restricted areas.
- If you happen to recognize or know any of the older adults, DON’T start getting familiar with them.
- OBSERVE necessary precautions, Covid-19 has not been eradicated.
As we continue to reach out and express charitable acts this Christmas season, let’s apply wisdom as we show genuine love.
- Damilola Grillo is a Gerontologist, simply put a friend to every adult 60 years and over.
Dee Gee as she is fondly called, studied Gerontology and Ageing Studies at Swansea University, Wales and her organization, Hold The Age is a one-stop shop for all elderly needs.
She is also a dementia therapist who provides tailor-made solutions for the elderly to ensure wholesome living in their later years.