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The virus magnifies the loneliness of the elderly at Christmas



Rosa Otero prepared another lonely dinner for dinner.

The Christmas Eve of the pandemic turned a precious moment that should have been spent with her family into another day for her widow living alone.

Otero, 83, usually travels from her neat Barcelona apartment to the northwestern region of Galicia, Spain, to spend winter vacations with her family.

However, travel restrictions and health authorities urged the increase in infections, which led Otero’s family to persuade them to cancel their holiday plans this year.

“I don̵

7;t want to celebrate anything,” Otero said as he sat down to eat a plate of salmon and potatoes. “I don’t like Christmas because it brings me unforgettable memories. My husband died in January seven years ago. Since then, I feel very lonely.”

Otero is one of countless elderly people, most of whom are poor and hiding indoors. They feel more isolated than usual on Christmas Eve.

Otero missed the company of the public senior center in her community. She and many others often met with friends, chatted or played cards. Due to the pandemic, this small social island was cut off.

The only link that keeps their fragile lives in touch with the wider world is the local primary care clinic. As in other parts of Spain, the heavily burdened medical workers fighting the virus in Spain have done their best to continue home visits to elderly people who lack the ability to take care of themselves.

The lifelong home of 80-year-old Francisca Cano has become a warehouse for groceries. Cano weaves, cross-stitches, makes paper flowers, and uses the wood, plastic and paper she found on the street to make collages.

The pandemic meant that she could only talk to her two sisters over the phone.

“We missed each other during the Christmas holidays,” Kano said. “As I grew older, I went back to my childhood and made crafts like a girl. This is how I avoid loneliness.”

There are also people who have eliminated social connections before COVID-19 made socialization a danger.

José Ribes, 84, has been used to living alone since his wife left him. He kept the Spanish tradition of eating prawns on Christmas Eve. He shelled and ate the food supported on the bed, where he ate all his meals and smoked cigarettes, perpetuating the smell of stale tobacco in his home.

“My life is like my mouth,” Ribes said. “I don’t have my upper teeth, but all my lower teeth are still there. I have always been like that, nothing.”

Álvaro Puig also hardly noticed the effects of this virus, which prevented many families from gathering.

Puig is 81 years old and lives in an old butcher’s shop specializing in horse meat. He started his business after inheriting from his parents. After a long period of business closure, the countertops where he received customers, the scales where he weighed meat, and the cash register at which he checked out were all intact. The walk-in refrigerator has become his miniature living room in the life of the scrapped bachelor. He was there watching TV with his pet rabbit, and he rescued the rabbit from the street.

“I feel lonely these days. I often feel depressed,” Puig said. “These holidays did not make me happy, but made me sad. I hate them. Most families have died. I am the last one left. I will spend Christmas alone at home because I have no one to spend it with .”

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Associated Press writer Joseph Wilson (Joseph Wilson) contributed to this report.

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Learn about AP’s report at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine And https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak


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