Virus magnifies solitude for the aged at Christmas


Rosa Otero prepares her dinner for one more nightly meal in solitude.

This pandemic Christmas Eve has turned what ought to be a preciously scarce second to spend time along with her household into one more day by day installment of her life as a widow who lives alone.

Otero, 83, usually travels throughout Spain from her small, tidy condo in Barcelona to northwest Galicia, to spend the winter holidays along with her household.

But the restrictions on journey and urgings from well being authorities that infections are on the rise have satisfied Otero’s household to cancel their vacation plans for this yr.

“I don’t really feel like celebrating something,” Otero mentioned as she sat right down to eat a plate of salmon with potatoes. “I don’t like Christmas, as a result of it brings me dangerous recollections. My husband died in January seven years in the past. Since then I really feel very alone.”

Otero is one among a numerous variety of aged, principally poor and hidden away indoors, who really feel much more remoted than ordinary on the night time earlier than Christmas.

Álvaro Puig Moreno watches tv whereas consuming a his Christmas Eve dinner at his dwelling in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. “The solitude will get to me today, I usually really feel depressed,” Puig mentioned. “These holidays, as a substitute of constructing me glad, make me unhappy. I hate them. Most of household has died, I’m one of many final ones left. I’ll spend Christmas at dwelling alone as a result of I haven’t got anybody to spend them with.”
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti))

Otero misses the companionship of her neighborhood’s publicly run senior middle that she and lots of others frequent to satisfy up with mates, have a chat or play a sport of playing cards. That island of society has been lower off because of the pandemic.

Just about the one hyperlink that retains their fragile lives linked to the broader world is the native major care clinic. Medical employees, who’ve borne the heavy burden of battling the virus in Spain as elsewhere, have carried out what they’ll to maintain up dwelling visits for the aged who lack the means to fully look after themselves.

The lifelong dwelling of 80-year-old Francisca Cano has turn into a warehouse of miscellanea. Cano knits, does cross-stitch, makes paper flowers, and constructs collages from bits of wooden, plastic and paper that she finds on the street.

The pandemic has meant that she will be able to solely converse to her two sisters by cellphone.

“We have missed each other these Christmas holidays,” Cano mentioned. “As I’ve grown older I’ve gone again to my childhood, doing crafts like a woman. That’s my manner of preserving the loneliness at bay.”

Then there are these whose social connections had already been erased earlier than COVID-19 made socializing a hazard.

José Ribes, 84, is used to being on his personal since his spouse left him. He saved the Spanish Christmas Eve custom of consuming prawns. He shelled and ate them propped up within the mattress the place he has all his meals and smokes cigarettes that give his dwelling a everlasting scent of stale tobacco.

“My life is like my mouth,” Ribes mentioned. “I don’t have any of my high enamel, whereas all the underside ones are nonetheless there. I’ve at all times been like that, having all of it, or nothing.”

Álvaro Puig has likewise barely seen the impression of the virus that has deterred many households from gathering.

Puig, 81, resides within the outdated butcher’s store specializing in horse meat that he ran after inheriting it from his mother and father. Long closed for enterprise, the countertop the place he attended prospects, the scales the place he weighed meat, the money register the place he rang up payments, are all intact. The walk-in fridge, in disuse, has turn into a miniature front room for his existence as a cloistered bachelor. There he watches tv along with his pet rabbit, which he rescued from the road.

“The solitude will get to me today. I usually really feel depressed,” Puig mentioned. “These holidays, as a substitute of constructing me glad, make me unhappy. I hate them. Most of the household has died. I’m one of many final ones left. I’ll spend Christmas at dwelling alone as a result of I don’t have anybody to spend it with.”



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