From Olanrewaju Lawal,Birnin Kebbi
At the age of 50, life ought to have been normal but to many it is the period they have lost their memories and are wandering in hallucination.
In Kebbi State, the Behavioral Health Foundation of Nigeria (BHFN) has discovered that some residents aged 50 years and above have suffered loss of memory due to one illness or the other.
Speaking with newsmen on their discovery in Birnin Kebbi,the founder of the NGO, Dr. Bioku Ayodeji Abas, a consultant psychiatrist at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Birnin Kebbi, decried the increase of memory loss (amnesia) in elderly people from the age of 50 and above in Kebbi State.
According to him,”Many people are coming with the memory problem at the age of 50 years and above, and the trend is becoming increasing. Some of the patients, who are our fathers and mothers, have amnesia, and you see them wandering, urinating, defecating unannounced and uncontrolled and they don’t know what they are doing and some have even forgotten the names of their children!
“Imagine how some of these people who contributed their quota to the development of the society, and are now left helpless and in oblivion?” He explained that, “this is the time to take care of them, as there are many ways to prevent or manage the situation, if proper care is given to the patients”.
Abas said that the NGO had been taking care of the elderly people with memory loss incident, adding that the foundation has been going to various communities, identifying and screening patients with their instruments to see the level of the loss.
He said that, “The aim is to know whether they have dementia or not, and provide some little help in terms of giving them drugs, at least, to stop the memory loss from progressing; if the condition is not reversed and people educated so that they will not get there,” he said.
Abas said the NGO was formerly established in 2019 with the hope of achieving optimum mental health for people via community based scientific approach, among others.
“The issue of mental health is so primitive that people don’t know that mental health is manageable. People view is as spiritual attack and they go to other places to seek help, and by the time they come here, the illness has degenerated to something that you can’t do much.
“We want to correct that notion. This is manageable; people can be healthy, and we want to change the perspective and offer evidence based treatment.
“We trained over 42 social and health workers from the 21 local government areas of the state on how to recognise common mental illness, including drug abuse as the global treatment of health mental issue now is community based because the outcome of the treatment is better if people are treated close to their house,” he said.
The founder commended the collaborative efforts of state government and called on well- to – do individuals to assist the NGO in its efforts to promote mental health care service in the state.