GR US

Our Seniors in the Coronavirus Era

Αssociated Press

FILE - In this March 24, 2020, file photo, Kaye Knighton, 86, receives a visit from his daughter-law Darla Knighton at the Creekside Senior Living, in Bountiful, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

A couple of days ago I called a good, old, loyal friend of mine. An expatriate who has greatly contributed to our Community. It is always a pleasure to speak with him. He is a source of unusually great knowledge, a walking library of the Greek-American community, due to the love he has for it.

I had not talked to him for a long time. Not because I was not thinking about him. But because, I would wonder, what would I tell him? That I would go visit him? Like I used to when I would stop by from the office every time I had the chance? That we are at the beginning of the end of the Coronavirus crisis? That I am sorry that after decades’ worth of trips, this year he could not visit his village? Of course not.

But the most important reason is that although I am well, although I am careful, at his age it would be irresponsible of me to visit him - even though he would insist on my going.

Aging, it is said, is a difficult process. The human machine, no matter how well it is maintained, puts on many miles over time. It gets tired after hitting potholes on the road, being tossed about by the waves of the sea, and enduring the fiery heat of summer and the icy winters – literally and metaphorically. But the human soul is strong, bolstered by many experiences, and its mind is sharp – thank God – but eventually, its powers are reduced. After all, what is the alternative?

The times we live in are very difficult for all of us.

They are even more difficult, however, for the elderly. Not only because they cannot go outside or even leave their room, but also because they live with the anxiety that they may get infected.

And the elderly, as is well known, are the most vulnerable to this virus out of all groups of the population.

The number of Coronavirus victims in the country's nursing homes amounts to, according to some statistics, as much as 35%. So great care is required.

I think that after the Coronavirus experience, which we all tasted, we gained a better understanding of the problems the elderly face – the problems of isolation and deprivation of contact with the rest of the world.

It is not pleasant at all. Especially for those who live in an apartment or a small room within an apartment or home.

The pandemic made us more aware of the psychological state that the elderly often face due to isolation.

Under normal conditions, many of our seniors would be visiting Greece and Cyprus this summer. They would be enjoying a change in their environment, sitting in their yards or making their visits to friends and family. They would be in a different state of mind.

However, this situation cannot last indefinitely. Time, as they know better than all of us, runs very, very quickly. Before we know it, this summer will roll by and we will start the countdown for the next one.

And then we will enjoy the blessings of a normal life twice as much – and without the fear of the virus.