By Philip Yatai

St John’s Catholic Church, Tafawa Balewa Way, Kaduna, has joined other faithful around the world in celebrating senior citizens, to give them a sense of belonging and showered them with love and affection.

The celebration was in commemoration of the International Day for the Elderly initiated by Pope Francis every 4th Sunday of July, to celebrate senior citizens.

The newly established Apostolate for the Elderly, St John’s Parish, provided health services, lunch and organised a seminar for the elderly and their caregivers to mark the day.

The health services, which ran for two Sundays between July 18 and 25 were provided by St John’s Medical Team supported by medical students from Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital.

The services provided for the elderly, their caregivers, and the other parishioners included blood pressure, weight, body mass index, and fasting blood Sugar checks.

Other services include malaria test and treatment for malaria, typhoid fever, and hypertension, while strips for sugar test, rapid diagnostic kits for malaria test and drugs were donated by parishioners.

During the seminar organised by the parish on July 23, Rev. Fr. Joseph Anekeh, Parish Priest and the Coordinator, Human, and Family Life Commission, took the elderly and parishioners through the topics, “What the Elderly Need to Know” and “The Roles of the Family and the Church”.

Anekeh harped on the need for the apostolate for the elderly and challenged the state, the church, and her members to value and care for the elderly.

According to him, those who care for the elderly should be trained and urged children and grandchildren of senior citizens to visit them regularly.

“The society should develop a positive attitude towards the elderly, while the state, the church, and the family should care and love old people.”

The parish priest prayed for the elderly and wished them health, God’s protection, and more years.

Similarly, in peppers entitled, “The Challenge of the Elderly Today” and “How to Care for Old Age” Dr. Ella Idoko, Family Physician, with a special interest in Geriatric Medicine, said that the age of the elderly ranges from 60 years and above.

Idoko outlined some of the challenges of the elderly to include biomedical, psychological, and social, adding that the common medical conditions include arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, falls, obesity, and depression.

She advised the elderly to stay physically active for a healthy body and mind; socially engaged with friends and family and within communities and follow a healthy, well-balanced diet.

“You must not neglect yourself, but regular checkups and stick to them. Take all medications as directed by your doctor and limit your alcohol consumption, quit smoking to lower your risk of cancer and heart disease and get the sleep your body needs.

“Practice good dental hygiene every day, and discuss changes in sexual function with your doctor,” she added.

The elderly parishioners appreciated the efforts of the parish priest and the apostolate, and commended the initiative, describing it as the first in the parish, and prayed it should be sustained.