Mrs. Roseline Shamaki, a psychologist, has said that social isolation plays a crucial role in the mental health of elderly persons, and urged Nigerians to give that class the attention they deserved.
“The elderly persons need support to open up and share their feeling without being stigmatized. We must show them love and care,” Shamaki said on Thursday in Abuja. The psychologist spoke on the sideline of the World Mental Health Day celebration.
World Mental Health Day is an annual event observed on October 10, to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world. The theme for the 2019 celebration is “Suicide Prevention”.
The psychologist called on Nigerians to create a mindset of “every mind matters”, a new way of empowering the elderly to manage and improve their physical and mental health.
“Every mind matters’ is evidence-based; it shows people how to build simple changes into their daily lives such as reframing unhelpful thoughts, breathing exercises, and increasing physical activity,” she stated. Shamaki said that mental health should not be seen differently from physical health.
“It should be a part of the total health and wellness that the government needs to focus on,” she said. She said that every Nigerian had an important role to play in encouraging each other to speak up about their mental health issues.
“We have our senior citizens in communities; when they should be cared for, we leave them to fend for themselves when it is clear that most of them can’t.
“The strain on families is tremendous. Care of the elderly and vulnerable in this country needs a revolutionary approach,” she said. The psychologist noted that caring for the Nigerian seniors’ citizens was perhaps the greatest responsibility the government had.
“Those who walked before us have given so much and made possible the life we all enjoy,” she pointed out. Shamaki stressed that the real and meaningful change to the issue of health insurance affordability for the senior citizens in the country could only be brought about by focusing on the root causes, rather than the manifestation.
According to her, the frequency of “sundowning syndrome” is affected by some conditions such as exhaustion, hunger, thirst, depression, pain, boredom, and sleeping problems.
To prevent its symptoms, she said that Nigerians should avoid letting the senior citizens experience these triggers.