Initiatives for and by the Elderly at the Time of the Pandemic

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Initiatives for and by the Elderly at the Time of the Pandemic

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Aging is greatly regarded as an unchangeable reality that we human beings face in our lifetime. We all age throughout time with yearly birthdays, with the way we look, with the way we think, with the way we perceive things, and most importantly, with the way we look at life. 

There is really nothing wrong with growing old,  it is a life stage that we need to go through, it manifests our level of maturity sense of independence, and most essentially, our ability in making decisions and choices that can either make or break our life

Being a member of the aging and elderly circle and group does not mean that we are hindered by what we desire to do for ourselves and for others. 

It is because, despite the fact that we are beyond the calendar in terms of age, we are still both capable and able to make a difference and impact in the lives of others, in ways that may be small, yet are huge in the perception of others. 

I as the writer of this article admit that I am in a present age right now wherein three numbers are left and I am beyond the calendar’s scope already. 

But honestly, I never had regrets in everything that I have done with my life, for the reason that I did them happily and willingly is all that matters in life. 

In this article, we will get the grand opportunity of discovering and witnessing four inspirational, motivational, and thriving stories that focus on the initiatives that were performed by individuals who are at their elderly stage of life, encapsulated in their main goal of making their yesteryears more worthwhile and meaningful.

The Elder-Friendly French Postal Service and Staff 

The first is the French postal service and staff that is centered on delivering easy and accessible services to their elderly clientele. 

According to Janine, who is an 81-year old client of the French postal service, she truly enjoys the totality of the postal service, for the reason that it gives her happiness, despite the isolation that she experiences by being far from her relatives. 

Janine says: “It’s lovely to see the postman as I don’t usually see anyone else all week.”

Under the scheme which is entitled: “Watch over my parents” which is translated in French as: “Veiller sur mes parents”, the respective families of the elderly are required to pay €20 on a monthly basis, which will support the initiatives of both postwomen and postmen on checking their parents in the duration of their morning rounds, as part of their postal services. 

The home visits can either be performed on a frequent or weekly basis, with the assurance that reports are delivered back to the respective family of the elderly and also, the postal service extends their scope of work by rendering additional services to their clientele such as an alert system and a 24-hour helpline. 

The 81-year old Janine lives at present in the Vaucluse region of France, wherein sadly, she is already widowed due to her husband’s death a few years ago, and her only daughter is living 600 kilometers away in Paris. 

As a means of sharing what she feels at the moment, Janine emphasizes by saying: “They worry that I’m on my own in the middle of nowhere. ” 

Nicolas Dezeure, who is the visiting postman of Janine, shares in an interview his relished 15-minute Monday morning conversation with Janine in the latter’s house and shares it to Janine’s daughter by means of messages about his visits to her mom by saying: “She knows loads about me!” 

Eric Baudrillard, who is the head of the new strategy for the French postal service, emphasizes his own perspective on the postal service for the French elderly by saying: “People are living longer. More of them want to stay in their own homes for as long as they can.”

The Elderly-Initiated Rural Mobile Library

The second is the educational initiative is performed by Antonio La Cava, a 73-year old primary school teacher in  Basilicata,  for the children that lived in the rural part of Italy where he was born. 

La Cava’s immense worry as a primary school teacher was based on his young pupils’ lack of interest in reading books, most especially in their growing years, thus, as a response, he decided to make an educational transformation in Basilicata by turning a three-wheeled van into a mobile library. 

At his present age of 73, La Cava has devotedly spent 20 years of his lifetime by driving happily his Biblio Motocarro, to address the need for reading, through communities and remote villages in Basilicata, which is known as a region in the far south of Italy.

La Cava emphasized his educational initiative as advocacy that he will never stop doing as long as he can still do it with utmost agility and exuberance, for the betterment of the young pupils of Basilicata, Italy, and said, “I was worried about growing old in a country of non-readers. Without a book, so often a child is alone.”

A Piaggio Ape van is chosen by La Cava for the reason that it provides an ambiance of homely, humble associations, and finished with a house-like roof, and he continues to share by saying: “As soon as you see it, it puts you in a good mood. It suggests the idea of refuge, of relaxation, which is what every book offers.”

Aside from his educational initiative of having a mobile library, La Cava decided to extend his pupil ladened efforts by running workshops that are focused on teaching creative writing, as well as in showing short films that are taken from books as a means of inspiration. 

Lastly, La Cava believes in the saying, “Culture and books are made by and for everyone, not just a privileged few.”

The Filmmaker’s Initiative on the Art of Pasta from the Elderly’s Perspective

The third is the filming initiative of a filmmaker whose project is focused on capturing the beauty and art of handmade pasta which is called “pasta nonnas”, and as a result, a great turnout transpired from being featured in her videos to becoming a social media sensation. 

Vicky Bennison is a former international development worker and moved to the Le Marche region in Italy. She has creatively filmed 200 and more “nonnas” or grandmothers, making all kinds of pasta, from the gnocchi in the Italian Alps up to orecchiette in Puglia.

Bennison’s YouTube Channel became a runaway hit when she featured the “Pasta Grannies” which garnered a total of 455,000 subscribers. 

In accordance with Vicky’s virtual statement, she emphasized the following thoughts by saying: “The grannies are the last generation that had to make pasta every day to feed their families. I wanted to celebrate older women and their experiences. These women are survivors.” 

Her videos included Tuscan nonna Giuseppina Spiganti, a 93-year-old grandmother who showed Vicky’s YouTube viewers how to create “pici” spaghetti-like pasta. 

Lastly, Bennison’s videos are a version of oral history, that oftentimes record both unique and distinct recipes, and through that, the feature grannies themselves have won the channel’s global appeal wherein she says:  “It’s not about pasta-making really. It’s more like a warm hug.”

The Disabled yet Innovative Shopping Grandmother 

The fourth is Rita Ebel. A 62-year old grandmother got into a car accident 25 years ago which rendered her disabled. She found  an innovative way to address her frustration with numerous shops and cafes that are vividly inaccessible to wheelchair users like her

Just a year ago, the 62-year-old granny who hails from Hanau, Germany came with an innovative approach to address her dilemma, and that is to construct a ramp that is made of Lego. She was helped by her husband during the entire process. 

Rita was able to make dozens of made-to-order Lego ramps for shop and cafe entrances by sticking together piece by piece, hundreds of vibrantly colored, and interlocked plastic bricks in a concrete manner. 

Ebel emphasizes her point of view in doing such innovation by saying: “I’m trying to sensitize the world a bit to barrier-free travel. Anyone could suddenly end up in a situation that puts them in a wheelchair as it did to me.” 

According to Malika El Harti, a businesswoman who lived as well in Hanau, Germany and got the prime opportunity of using the ramp that was installed in the entrance of her salon, emphasizes her point of view on the created innovation done by Ebel, by saying: “It’s a brilliant idea. You can see from afar that you can get in here without any problems.”

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