The “crown virus” Covid-19 has been shown to threaten the physical health of those who contract it. But also

has collectively attacked our emotions

, inoculating fear, anguish, prejudice and confusion, even without having been infected.

This pandemic constitutes

a health and social drama

who can find us as actors, whether in the role of sick victims, health warriors or crouched spectators looking for protection in their seats (more or less comfortable, more or less secure seats).

The so-called vulnerable groups fall into this category due to their higher risk, they are those in which the infection has had a worse evolution and prognosis, based on epidemiological history. It is not a higher risk of becoming infected or contagious, higher than that of the rest of the population. The

old people

They are among those who should receive the most attention due to their vulnerability.

The virus does not move by itself, but any person or object can serve as a vehicle for its spread and contagion. To try to avoid it, there are the measures of “social distancing” that, when suspected of contagion, transmute into “isolation” (etymology, of putting an island). In the case of those who we call “older people” (older in years and life experience), prevention measures establish that they cannot go out and suggest not receiving visits.

They have been in that situation for more than eighty days

and it doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon.

For those who are living in

adult residences

older, the situation becomes more critical, with isolation measures that prevent the entry of family members, visits, recreational and therapeutic workshops, to prevent the entry of the virus where there is a greater concentration of people in this vulnerable group.

On World Day of Good Treatment for the Elderly, Petracca raises the need to pay more attention to the emotional needs of one of the most vulnerable groups facing the pandemic.

Such is the case of Mrs. RG who, after having suffered a blow to her head, was transferred to a clinic for a study to rule out any consequence. After it was verified that the blow had not caused her any injury, she had to remain hospitalized and isolated in the clinic for 14 fourteen days, given that RG was classified as a “suspected population” of being infected due to coming from a residence. Upon returning, he also had to suffer another 14 days of isolation, in this case because he came from a medical center, complying with health regulations. Great paradox of human prejudice: older people who require greater care are considered “suspicious”, therefore they are isolated.

The 28 days of isolation to confirm that RG was not infected and did not spread to third parties, also confirmed that she was no longer the same, engrossed, distressed and at times irritable. The following week,

he celebrated his 90th birthday at the residence

without any infection, but neither did he have the company or affection of children, grandchildren and relatives, nor the joy that would have been present in such an important event.

Thus, the older adult, for whom

encouragement and socialization are crucial

For his psychophysical well-being and health, he suffers the journey of a suspicious castaway on each island where he must arrive in his work as an isolated person (residence for the elderly and medical institutions).

The needs of those who go through this adult stage of life are visible but not looked at, and

their voices are not heard

; instead, they become visible with a sensational and ephemeral tint when the virus manages to invade some more or less armored residence for older adults.

Mind and body are mutually processes

related that constitutes us as humans. In the current pandemic, a certain dehumanized approach would predominate, with exclusive centralized attention on a sick body to be cured. When all eyes go through only the infectious prism,

emotional needs may go unnoticed

, containment and social. It would not be about antinomies but an integral view of the person.

Serve this existential test, in which the human condition is questioned in the need to contemplate our body-mind unity, accompany in suffering, attend to the needs of older adults and bring us as a society in wise learning.


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Gustavo Martín Petracca, neurologist-neuropsychiatrist, medical director of INEBA

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Publicado en el diario La Nación

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