What happened to our great elders during the population containment?


Statistics show that the highest number of deaths is among the elderly, who are weakened by age and disease; In France, deaths in institutions account for one third of the total number of deaths; and it must be added those who die of Covid-19 in the solitude of their homes, those whom a press headline called "invisible victims of Covid-19" since such patients are not tested.

On 14 April, in an article published in Le Figaro, Valérie Régnier, president of Sant'Egidio France, violently denounced the "inability to safeguard weak lives" in the Accommodation Establishment for the Elderly and Dependent (EHPAD) and the fact that the deaths in these establishments were not counted in the daily statistics (subsequently this has changed); She denounced the trauma to elderly residents caused by the suppression of visits by relatives, and thus the deprivation of the presence of loved ones; these traumas, in addition to the fear of being infected, contribute to the phenomenon of "slippage" that causes the elderly to no longer want to live. A situation that describes a reality that has existed: in France, some directors have behaved in ways that are inconsistent with the ethical charter which they undertake to respect and have flouted the dignity of the people entrusted to them..

However, it is necessary to qualify such a dramatic observation; we can cite situations that command admiration: you have a good example of it that has been echoed in the media. In a retirement home in eastern France, the health care staff chose, from the beginning of the decision taken by the Authorities to confine the country, to stay on site with the elderly residents. For five weeks, these caregivers wanted to put in parentheses their family and personal life to devote themselves to the well-being of the people in their care. We were even able to discover the makeshift installations in their offices. After five weeks, a great relief, no residents were infected and we saw them go out to join their families, evoking, before their departure and with great emotion, all the bonds that were created during this very particular period. In other host establishments, management quickly took steps to reduce the negative impact of isolation on residents and maintain ties with their families; via Skype, and with real joy, I was able, twice a week, to exchange for a quarter of an hour with my mother; then it was a moment of strong emotion when I "found" her back through a parlor-visit; beautiful moments of happiness too, when she was able to see her great-grandson gesticulating and smiling at her behind the protective glass.

Finishing your life in EHPAD remains, for me, a last resort; at a time when the "after" time is looming on the horizon, perhaps there is room to start a reflection to imagine, as Valérie Régnier says in her article, "a society in which the blessing of a long life does not turn into the curse of a miserable end."

Monique Bodhuin

Monika Ptak