Beside the elderly, for a new society. It is the time for proximity . By Marco Impagliazzo

July 12 2020

ELDERLYMarco Impagliazzo

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The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage overseas, on the Indian subcontinent, in Russia.
The question of how to prepare the world of tomorrow is becoming increasingly pressing, because as Pope Francis said at Pentecost: "Worse than this crisis, there is only the drama of wasting it".
What, then, must the crisis teach us? What should it sweep away? Among the many distortions of our sick world, which until yesterday was unaware of being so, as it was apparently asymptomatic, emerges with absolute evidence the social fragility of the elderly population, on which the Covid-19 tsunami has struck with particular violence. ISTAT recently reported: "In Italy almost 85% of deaths due to coronavirus were people over 70, over 56% those over 80".
One generation has been targeted. It paid the highest price. It suffered the consequences of a mixed combination of weakness, loneliness, and rejection. What we owe our elderly is the commitment to build a different society with intergenerational solidarity, caring for the health and life of each of its members.
In the Angelus for the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the Pope denounced the suffering of "many elderly people, who have been left alone by their family, as if they were material to be discarded. And this is a tragedy of our times: the loneliness of the elderly. ".
This is what the aftermath of the pandemic must sweep away, if we want what we have gone through has not passed in vain, if we do not want our world to fall into the illusion of apparent health that drives away those most in need of companionship, support, and friendship.
On this same newspaper, on 3 July 3, Mauro Leonardi stressed the need for "a widespread care-taking operation. Every condominium, parish, residential area should adopt an elderly person. It's a matter of making a few phone calls, bringing groceries, visiting for a little bit, listening, telling stories." I join these words and I dare to make a similar appeal; because loneliness is more and more the evil of our time, and it is destined to burden the lives of the less self-sufficient well beyond the end of the pandemic, and finally because we already know a vaccine and a cure for it. We are the vaccine, if we will be able to work and mend the torn weft among generations; the cure are our words, our hands, if we choose to give time and attention to those who are advanced in years.
Faced with a virus that has affected the sociality of peoples and individuals, which has forced first to confinement and then physical distancing, it is necessary to respond with an equal and opposite contagion made up of shared destiny and sensitivity, interdependence of paths and goals. Rising from the nightmare of overloaded intensive care units in which one risked choosing between who could live and who should die, it is necessary that each of us become a "field hospital", men and women capable of administering the therapy that saves, that of memory, of solicitude, of closeness, of encounter. Indeed, the history of these months, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi wrote, "forces us, beyond our slowness, habits and laziness, to go to the peripheries", even in those of life, on that extreme frontier of existence that we all hope to reach and that we all hope is full, rich, and livable like every season of human history.
If the pandemic will shake us so much that we are aware that we are really "in the same boat" and that getting close to the elderly allows us to save "all together" and all together our entire humanity, this tragedy will not have passed in vain, and we will be better and stronger along this "turn of history" that we are going through.