Beauty For The Aged: Our Common Responsibility (Gaius BALA)

I asked each of them this question, “Are you satisfied with the quality of health services delivered to you?”

Not a single one boldly said, YES


Walking home, the responses of the aged patients keep echoing in my mind. It reminded me of a strained system, that has lost the trust of its senior citizens.

At their most dependable phase, they have been subjected to the gross inadequacy of an ill system.

Which leaves me with this question, “How can an ill system bring quality healthcare to a population vastly affected with ill health?”


At work, a senior colleague noticed my flair for research driven findings, and felt it needful to link me up with a consultant; in medical practice and in research.

The consultant gave me a run-through of what he’s currently up to, which cantered amongst the aged. I was to serve as a contact person, getting data that will help us better assess the state of abuse amongst the target population.


So far so good, I won’t say it has been an adventure. This experience has given me a clearer view of what it means to work with the aging, the aged and the super aged population. Their challenges, and the place of an integral care giving system.


Today’s outing was quite tasking; from having an old soldier who had stories of wars, to a Lecturer who took me back to class. Truth be told, I almost ran away. Yet another day to remind me how  the lecture hall felt like.

Then came this aged woman, who kept telling how the thought of death scares her. I smiled, reassured her of a life that is beyond the sting of her fears.


But there was this one man…..

Who was recently diagnosed of Prostate cancer.

He came all the way from Borno state.

Told me of how he has emptied his account, in a quest for wellness. Selling properties and running into debts.

On trying to assess the financial strength of his care givers, I realized that all of them were under the wings of his financial care. As a corollary, they were dependent on the patient.


When the one who is in need of help is required to give him to the ones he is expecting help from.

The complexity of this situation is as complex as the sentence.


Somehow, I could relate to the burden that comes with being a caregiver.

2014, I was a part-time caregiver for my brother in-law’s mum. Sitting pretty on my wrist lies a scar. Happened when I slipped on her urine; straight on tile. Fresh in my memory!

2020, I was a full time caregiver to my dad, who had Glaucoma (both eyes), chronic ulcer, high BP and BPH.

My dad survived, but the granny is long gone!

So yes, it’s not without a story.


According to the Aging Readiness and Competitiveness Report 2021

“Although life expectancies have been increasing, evidence shows that healthy life expectancies have not kept pace (even as a proportion of total life expectancy), meaning older adults are living longer but with a chronic condition or disability.”

While this is true in USA, I think it doesn’t reflect our present reality in Nigeria.

Firstly, it doesn’t seem like our life expectancy is increasing. I might not have facts to feed this claim, but Nigeria is nowhere close being a country that has a teeming population of the aged.

With a relatively lower population of the aged, we’re still grossly below the mark; when it comes to healthy life expectancy.

In response to acute challenges, our healthcare system is stressed. Though more effort is infused, the load that is upon us isn’t relenting.

On handling chronic conditions, the system is just finding its identity.


I empathize with Mr Q (fictitious name), and many other aged patients. Those who empty their peanut pensions, in an attempt to taste healthy living.

I promised him that I’ll lend my voice to see that policies and government programmatic approaches are channeled to their aged group.

More so, I plead with health professionals and stakeholders to consider outreaches, specially for the aged, as this will support the efforts already on ground.

Channel resources to this direction, it won’t be without its blessings.

Like me, you might have been confronted with situations that questioned the competency of the Nigerian Health system; particularly the public healthcare system. Yours might be a scar, a more personal experience, which stirs your heart to resentment.

I have met people that have developed hatred with Doctors, Nurses, Medical Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacists, and any other health staff that is tied to their story. None of your reasons are lightly regarded. It is a reality of the state we find ourselves.

(Taking a moment to reassure you that your scars are a reminder, telling us we can do better)


It’s disheartening to find aged patients solely transport themselves to the hospital, with no support from a caregiver.

It’s even more disheartening that after all these stress, they are greeted in a healthcare system that thrives on delay.

I have heard them complain of how the Nigerian Healthcare system takes back the pension the country offers them, and drains their energy in return.

You might say they might not be all TRUE, but they are not all wrong either.

What are the policies on ground, to ensure they don’t use all their pensions for treatment of senile diseases?


And to you reading this….

This is a humble plea, to make sure that aged mummy/daddy is given the best care they can be given.

They’re not permitted to be without help. Not when they have a selfless person like you, to call son/daughter, name it….

Take this as an assignment you gave yourself, and believe me, you will be glad you did.

Let’s have a society where the young population take responsibility for the wellbeing of the aged.

They must not be related to you.

Anywhere you find them, smile and shower them with the richness of your humanity.

None of what you do will go unrewarded.

If the aged are not satisfied with the quality of the healthcare system, they should at least attest to the fact that they have a community that is intentional about their wellbeing.

Let’s come up with aged-focused projects: for retirees, old mummies and daddies that gave their all to see that we enjoy our youthful phase.

I’m writing this to me, then to you, because we have a heart that cares and WE WILL PUT THIS COMPASSIONATE HEART to use.


Of course!

You and I are becoming the NEXT GENERATION OLD!






Federal Ministry of Health Nigeria.

Center for Disease Control Abuja

Nigeria Health Watch

Society for Family Health, Nigeria

Gaius BALA
Show full profile Gaius BALA

A Global Shared-Leadership Biomedical Scientist, with over two years working experience in the diagnostic landscape of northern Nigeria. As a firm advocate of healthcare system strengthening, Gaius is committed to repositioning rural health practice to World Health Organization's Universal Heath Coverage. Currently, He is serving as a core team player for MEDLAB CONVO; one of the fastest growing medical laboratory platform for students and young professionals. He also doubles up as Youth Community Ambassador for UNFPA, representing IGABI local government of Kaduna state. Outside the field of health, you will find him extending his winds of social innovation in community development programs, Arts and literature and Teens Capacity Development. He served as the Organizer of Sokoto Book and Arts Festival 2021; Head of Online Promotion, TEDxArkilla 2021.

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