Globally, many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) are experiencing an increased growth of the older population alongside increased life expectancy . Nigeria is the most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa and is also witnessing this trend alongside other LMICs . According to the United Nations, (UN), an older person is an individual aged 60 years and above. This cut-off has been so determined to enable inclusion because of the lower life expectancy in many LMIC compared to high-income countries (HIC). By recent global estimates in 2015, older persons numbered about 900 million [1–3]. At a growth rate of about 56% between 2015 and 2030, it was estimated that globally, the proportion of older persons will increase to 1.4 billion. By 2050 this number is projected to further increase and double yet again numbering over 2 billion [1, 4].
By 2050, about 80% of older persons in the world will be living in LMIC such as Nigeria . In addition, by this time, the number of older persons in Nigeria is expected to increase to 25.5 million from the current 6.98 million . Ageing is associated with health, social, and economic challenges. Alongside these challenges, are societal changes such as increased female participation in the workforce, rural-urban migration and decreased family size . These changes in demographic patterns and social structures which traditionally ensured care and support for an older person have implications on their well-being. As the number of older persons in Nigeria continues to increase, there will also be an increased need for a relevant evidence base to guide necessary action for providing care for sub-group of the population.
The process of ageing has been documented to be a unique experience for each individual. The associated decline has been reported to not necessarily be associated with low levels of life satisfaction or self-rated health . Available research shows that ageing is associated with health, social and economic difficulties. The available research, however, shows that the experience of ageing is mixed. The perception of ageing ranges across a continuum of positivity and negativity. [6–9].This includes the perception of ageing as a good period pf life or a bad period depending on the individual and prevailing circumstances. For instance, although having a disability or morbidity generally has a negative effect on self-perceived quality of life There is however evidence that for some older persons with a disability their perceived self-rated health and quality of life (QoL) is positive despite the challenges faced  reporting on a longitudinal study revealed that older persons experienced a ‘paradox of ageing’, whereby despite the physical and cognitive decline, many of the respondents still viewed ageing as a good experience with enhanced wellbeing. The authors also asserted that despite associated challenges, ageing is associated with more positive overall emotional wellbeing and greater emotional stability .
Attitudes are individual beliefs about events, issues or experiences. According to Thorpe (2014), the attitude towards ageing may be defined as: ‘an individual’s meaning regarding the experience of ageing’. This concept reflects both the individual’s knowledge as well as their experience and influences their behavioural choices [6, 10, 11]. Researchers suggest that the attitude of older persons to ageing is critical for their survival, adjustment and acceptance of health-related behaviour. As such, the assessment of attitude particularly among older persons has been deemed beneficial [6, 12].
There are several benefits of a positive self-perceived attitude to ageing. These include physical and emotional wellbeing, increased life expectancy as well as improved QoL [7, 8]. Furthermore, positive self-perception has been associated with higher levels of resilience and positivity towards ageing [7, 11, 13]. Similarly, a positive attitude towards ageing has been seen to be associated with personal growth and healthier outcomes [7, 8, 13–15]. As such, positivity towards ageing is associated with increased life expectancy [15–18], increased life satisfaction [7, 9, 10, 13, 19] and increased QoL .
On the other hand, a negative attitude to ageing has been associated with health problems and poorer health outcomes. For instance, Quin and colleagues (2009) showed that a negative attitude to ageing was associated with poorer care-seeking behaviour for mental illness. This has been shown to reflect on the failure to seek treatment or poor treatment by health services . Likewise, other research suggests that poor attitude to ageing may be associated with depression [7, 21]. Likewise, ageing self- stereotypes have been shown to contribute to negative expectations and attitude towards ageing as well as impact behaviour, health and well-being . Levy and colleagues posit that older persons with negative attitudes often view their experience as a time of physical loss and mental decline . The findings of this study are consistent with those of Law, Laidlaw and Peck (2010) which support the finding that older persons with a negative attitude towards ageing were more likely to accept depression as normal and be less willing to seek treatment or adopt necessary lifestyle and behavioural changes [6, 11, 22].
The attitude to ageing has been reported to affect the physical as well as the psychological condition of older persons and is a strong predictor of their QoL . Older persons with better functional status and attitude to life have been shown to have better QoL . Findings from a study among residents of a nursing home in Turkey indicated that a positive attitude towards ageing was associated with better QoL, satisfaction with health, lower incidence of depression and loneliness. . Indeed, the attitude of older persons to ageing has been documented to affect the QoL and life expectancy of older persons . Also, research suggests that positive individuals are usually healthier, have increased life expectancy and better life satisfaction [7, 8, 16].
There is a growing body of evidence about the benefits of assessment of the attitude of older persons towards ageing and the use of such information for targeted action and behavioural change [6, 7]. Attitudes influence behaviour  and are good for evaluation as well as the development of health promotional activities. Furthermore, an individual’s attitude also may influence future behaviour and health-related outcomes .
The promotion of healthy ageing and the ushering in of the ‘Decade of Healthy Ageing’ is a global priority  which stipulates that no older person must be left behind. In order to facilitate initiatives to promote older persons to take greater responsibility for their ageing as well as steer member of the society towards recognition of this task, there is a need to explore the perspective of older persons themselves about the process of ageing. This information will assist in the recognition and targeting of negative attitude to ageing. Also, the planning of appropriate psychological intervention to challenge these negative attitudes may be achieved.
The ability to understand the experiences and attitudes of an older person regarding ageing is very important. However, studies about the attitude of older persons to ageing have to date have been mostly carried out in HIC or facility-based [7, 10–12, 25, 27]. These studies have documented a spectrum of positivity to ageing as well as negativity based on other demographic and social factors. There is however limited research in many low resource settings [6, 18]. Yunus and colleagues in a study conducted in Malaysia reported that reveal that positive attitudes to ageing were associated with health status in older adults . Likewise, Rashid and colleagues in their community-based study among older persons in Malaysia reported that the was a positive attitude to ageing as the total AAQ score and the scores in the individual domains were above average . In addition, social support was associated with increased AAQ score .
To our knowledge, this is the first study on the attitude towards ageing among older persons in Nigeria. This study set out to investigate the attitude to ageing among community-dwelling older persons. Information obtained will facilitate the understanding of their adaptation to this phase of their existence as well as assist the planning of appropriate intervention and targeted policies.