In New Book, Nigerian Catholic Nun Highlights Positive Perspectives, Challenges of “aging and later life”

In a new book, a Nigerian Catholic nun has highlighted some positive perspectives as well as challenges that come with joining the family of senior citizens. 

In the 218-page book published under the title, “Gerotrascendence: Some Uncharted Path”, Sr. Gloria Aniebonam, delved into the challenges and opportunities that aging people face experience.

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Aniebonam explained the concept of gerotranscendence and why senior citizens should not give up on themselves but instead believe that they have a lot to give to society even in old age.

Sr. Gloria Aniebonam 

“Gerotranscendence is a perspective that looks at aging and older life, older age from a positive perspective because gerotranscendence looks at older adults based on a lot that they are capable of still giving to the society and their environment,” she said during the June 12 interview.


Sr. Aniebonam added, “Generally, most people dread older age, let me put it that way; most people dread older age. We know that older age is a gift; longevity is not given to everyone.”

The Nigerian-born member of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul (DC) said, “When people are aging they are afraid of many things because what we see generally are people who are not able to care for themselves or people who are struggling with aches and pains all the time, but that's part of that. Later life is a beautiful time.”

“There are challenges of course and especially if you have some health challenges that are chronic; but apart from that, in a society where provision is made, where you have social security and people have worked and contributed to the sustainability of the society, later life is a beautiful moment when you can relax, do some of the things you were not able to do when you were younger because of many other challenges,” she told ACI Africa.  

The DC member noted that older people also suffer abuses, a theme captured in her book.

“On the 15th of June, we'll be celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elders are abused often, and the abuse can be physiological, emotional, financial, and even sexual,” Sr. Aniebonam said.

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Reflecting on financial abuse, she explained referring to senior citizens, “Sometimes because they are no longer able to manage their resources, they sometimes trust their closest neighbours, their children, their grandchildren and they take advantage of it and empty their accounts.”

“Sometimes it is physical abuse when they even say, I kept this here, I cannot find it they beat them,” the member of the Nigerian Council for Women Religious (NCWR) told ACI Africa. 

Sr. Aniebonam said that she expects her new book to bring both the older generation and the younger ones together to care for each other because there is space for everyone.

“Gerotranscendence is about highlighting the place of older adults, appreciating their resilience, their contribution in the society, and encouraging them to still live well, be happy that they have the privilege of longevity, and to encourage younger ones to have great regard for older adults,” the DC member told ACI Africa during the June 12 interview.

She continued, “What I hope to achieve basically is to appreciate later life and to encourage our society to recognize the salient place of older adults in our society.”


Sr. Aniebonam said that through her new book, she hopes to have “older adults and younger people know that there are a lot of good things in later life, to look forward to later life, not to be scared, and to interact more with younger adults.”

The Nigerian Catholic Nun hopes that people can become “aware of the important place the older person has” including his or her “wisdom and experience”, which she described as “invaluable.”

She went on to encourage senior citizens in Africa’s most populous nation to take advantage of government institutions to access help, adding, “In Nigeria, we have the National Senior Citizen Centre now, and the director general is a gerontologist, and they are breaking grounds; they are doing a lot to create this awareness.”

The Nigerian Catholic Nun encouraged senior citizens to “make sure they have their National Identification Number (NIM) because the time is coming when they will reap from the work they are doing.”

“Once you are 60, you are enrolled into that generation, and the social benefits, a lot of opportunities, privileges, like insurance, pension, will be available; but until we get there, let people not be afraid of aging,” Sr. Aniebonam told ACI Africa June 12.

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Abah Anthony John is a Nigerian Journalist with great enthusiasm and interest for Catholic Church Communication and Media Apostolate. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from Benue State University, Makurdi, Benue State Nigeria. He has vast experience in Print,  Electronic and Multi-Media Production.