By Bernice Bessey
One stage in life that is inevitable, unless one does not live long enough to see and experience, is old age. This stage of old adulthood is, however, characterised with challenges of both physical and mental health issues, which many, as a result, are neglected by society.
Meanwhile, senior citizens, as many may choose to prefer to call them, due to their frailty, have special needs like medical care.
In Ghana, for instance, lot of people fear aging, due to cultural misconceptions, discrimination, stereotype, financial challenges and ridicule, therefore, people hardly give their accurate age. When you ask an adult what his or her age is, you get responses such as “I am 40 younger,” instead of 40 years old.
Since no one can cheat nature, grey hair, wrinkles, sagging skin, weakness and subtle changes often give out old people living under pretence.
Nevertheless, the Level 300 nursing students of the University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Community Nursing Department, School of Nursing and Midwifery, have offered free health screening support to older adults.
The students, embarking on their semester project, screened the old people, mainly members of a non-profitable organisation, Help Age, for their blood pressure, Body Mass Index (BMI), sugar level, and eyes test among others.
As aging is also a delicate period of life and constantly older adults are socially isolated and left lonely, the ‘Group 2’ nursing students helped them enjoy some dancing and aerobics to strengthen their muscles.
One of the students, Clement Siaw Afriyie, explained the outreach programme “as part of our academic course. We were supposed to embark on community service, so we chose the aged and our main goal is to give them general screening. We checked their vital signs; we checked their sugar and we checked their BMI and for malaria.
“We also gave them education on home safety. The thing is that most of our old people don’t have basic education on how to take care of themselves. So when we realised that there is an organisation that has a home for the aged in Osu, we chose to come here so that we would give them that kind of education and any necessary advice.”
He was pleased about the turnout and advised society against the neglect of older adults, and further appealed that more organisations and individuals support them because they are at a crucial stage of their lives.
The Supervisor for the project, who also happens to be a Lecturer at the Department, Dr Lilian Akofa Ohene, said the project was part of the level 300 Community Nursing programme, where they are taught how to take care of different populations in society.
She said the students selected the aged group to reach out to them in a form of free health screening and education, as well as spending some quality time with this age demography, as sometimes people neglect them.
On her assessment of the student performance, she said: “I think my students are on top of issues. They have done very well because, at the planning stage, there were lots of challenges. We were supposed to have been at their (aged) day care centre, but because there is ongoing renovation works there, they moved us here. Here is not too comfortable per se, but we were able to do what we wanted to do.
“So that is nursing for you; we learn how to improvise; we do with what we have and always attend to our clients, no matter the situation.”
Dr Lilian Akofa Ohene urged the public to be kind to the aged, as they were the generation that nurtured and brought them up, adding that old people still have so much wisdom and knowledge the younger ones can tap from.
A beneficiary, Mary Yamotele Odum, thanked the students for their benevolence.