Elderly: neglected by some, greeted by megaphone by others

Sometimes I see a lot of old men and women on independent and hygienic walks around the neighborhood. The nostalgia – not the longing – of my grandfather and my grandmother arises among many feelings. The key difference between feelings lies in the absence or presence of pain.

I remember that at the beginning of the pandemic after the publication of data on the prevalence of deaths, which was cause for celebration for many young people, the feeling increased. Today, in a country with high numbers of older men and women and where deaths are increasing, I am amazed at the thoughts that surround every older man I see on the streets.

The most symbolic of these short-lived visual contacts turns out to be alone and alone in the vast majority; Society has forgotten about community. The bottom line is that the situation doesn’t end there. The virus, a living or dead being, is viewed by many as a kind of barbarism. An agent who kills what we know in our hearts without discrimination is a fallacy. After all, we were never in the same boat; Some were on the coast.

Worse than such barbarism are barbarities with a human face, including the abandonment suffered by old men and women. It matters little – or, as economists call it, their luck – and their luck. Unsurprisingly, the rate of mood disorders is significant in this age group. Andrew Solomon, author of books such as Far from the Tree and The Demon of Depression, shares his personal experiences with depression.

In his search for alternative treatments for “mental illness”, he describes his conversation with a man who worked at the Kigali Mental Health Clinic in Rwanda and said he had problems with foreign mental health workers, especially those who were there shortly after the genocide. It said: “(…) They did not identify the disease as an external, invasive thing. They did not ask the entire village to collect and acknowledge the disease and to participate in an attempt to support the person being treated. The treatment was not outside, in the brightness of the day, where you feel happy. There was no music or drums to quicken the heart as the heart needs to quicken. Instead, they took people individually to dirty cubicles for an hour and asked them to talk about the bad things that had happened (…). “

Today, in a country with high numbers of older men and women and where deaths are increasing, I am amazed at the thoughts that surround every older man I see on the streets.

The process here works similarly. The elderly population is brought into the small and dark room. However, there are two fundamental differences: the room is not the psychotherapeutic clinic, but its own houses, and there is no dialogue to tell the bad things. There is only one monologue between you and your constructed narrative. The same monologue that many people want to avoid for life.

Here in Portugal the community has expanded and the only individual remains. Now is the fight of the elderly against an invader and marginalization. The winner is an answer given by time, what we have most valuable, but we know that time is short in this moment of life. Perhaps the ideal is not to wait for an answer. Perhaps the ideal is to participate in its construction and avoid a chronic collective suicide masquerading as irrational or impulsive.