The impact of Covid-19 is widespread. But one group faced more severe restrictions and confinement: parents.
This responds in large part to the fact that the clinical picture of the coronavirus in people over 60 years of age can be more serious: in Chile they represent 15.6% of infections, 47.3% of hospitalizations and a 83.8% of deaths, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
A cohort in Chile is growing at an accelerating pace: if in 2002 those over the age of 60 represented 11.4% of the population, according to that year’s Census, for 2017 increased to 16.2%.
The confinement and restrictions are transverse. However, talking about parents it does not refer to a homogeneous group. This is demonstrated by the Aging Network of State Universities (an initiative that seeks to make applied research a contribution to decision-making in the country and enable the improvement of the quality of life in old age), which warned about how the group has been treated in this regard the month of Covid-19.
Older people, due to decreased immune system function, among other aspects of aging, are the most affected disease severity and a higher percentage of death, explains Iván Palomo, coordinator of the Network on Aging of the Chilean State University and director of the Center for Thrombosis Research at the University of Talca.
Therefore, they are more cooped up than everyone else. It affects their quality of life. Lack of physical activity and little social activity. All aspects that are decreasing according to Palomo, its physical, cognitive and relational functionality. Here, as in other areas, “socio-economic differences, they express themselves and the poorest are more affected ”.
Mariane Lutz of the U. de Valparaíso School of Medicine, also part of the network, said the country has no experience in pandemic situations like those affecting us, and “A lot of action is being taken on the spot, with urgency and adapted along the way.”
The guard is complex. The main thing is confinement and social isolation. Both, while reducing the likelihood of transmission, said Lutz, impact physical and mental health by preventing it walking, distracting, socializing and moving. “And isolation from loved ones is a condition that significantly increases stress and depression, among other mental health conditions.”
Cecilia Albala of the Public Nutrition Unit of the Institute of Nutrition and Food (Inta) of the U. de Chile, part of this network, said that what was particularly evident was discrimination against parents.
In addition, the speech referred to those with “paternalism that disguises discrimination, without considering that most continue to work and make an enormous contribution to the country,” said Albala. Mandatory quarantine for people over 75 years of age, he explained, which lasts for five months, is an example of this discrimination: “Why is it thought that parents cannot manage their health?”
From an ethical point of view, the worst is force people over 75 to maintain strict quarantine, shows Diana Aurenque Deputy Dean of Research and Postgraduate Studies at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Santiago, researchers who integrate networks.
Despite trying to protect them from contagion, Aurenque stressed that this protection was unacceptable because they fathered them and were childish to their parents. “Imposing a ban like this on an aging population will eventually take effect discriminatory and stigmatizing acts; discriminatory, because fundamental rights are suspended without their consent and because they belong to an age group; is stigmatizing, because the measure considers every older adult a member of the ‘risk group’; thus reinforcing negative stereotypes about old age or ageism. “
Camila Oda, director of the U. de O’Higgins School of Social Sciences, a member of the network, also pointed out that design public policy is carried out from an assumed approach calculate ICT management. Not necessarily like digital natives, but with domains at the user level that we often don’t find in all parents. “We can’t even take these types of skills for granted in adults, whether for training reasons, Internet access, etc.”
“The main mistake comes from The idea that the elderly do not have the ability to decide on their own “, emphasize Christian González-Billault, director of the Center for Geoscience, Mental Health and Metabolism (GERO), also part of the network. In a pandemic, on a different scale, other people are likely to make decisions that directly affect older people; he said, like staying at home.
“Decisions involving relevant segments of society, They should always include the opinion of this segment as an element of judgment. Depriving older adults from having freedom and control over decisions that concern them is a form of infantilization, which cannot be tolerated; it’s not fair, ”said the director of GERO.
Cristian Álvarez, from the Department of Physical Activity Sciences, Universidad de Los Lagos, is another member of the network, and says that Chile, a country with a high percentage of elderly people (with a life expectancy of more than 80 years), has reached such a stage that it has worsened. they have a large burden of associated disease.
Responding to this, Álvarez explained that, in a health system that is largely curative and not very preventive, there is little effort in programs to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle. There is no economic protection in sensitive matters such as food or transportation for the elderly, and what is worse, he added, “the efforts of this country are also not being observed, to protect and make the health system more preventive from early adulthood, where aging begins ”.
A disabled, sick, and tall vulnerable al Covid-19Álvarez explains “this is nothing more than the result of minimal investment in a preventive healthcare system, where pills and quick and palliative solutions are the outcomes we have become accustomed to in our population”.
Facing this and other pandemics, added the director of GERO, the starting point should be the steps does not conflict with rights of a particular group.
It is unacceptable to ask those under 25 to remain locked up so that those over 75 can leave and reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19, for example González-Billault. “That logic doesn’t apply to those over 75, even when it comes to treating them for complications associated with the virus.” There has to be a balance between preventive measures versus their effects bad events they might experience.
“There is no evidence that older people lack the cognitive abilities and preparation to make the best decisions about their own lives.; therefore we must respect their decisions in all areas of life, including this pandemic, ”said González-Billault.
Interventions, Oda explained, should try to make them feel accompanied and accompanied in a more proactive and non-reactive way. For example, he said, instead of expecting them to use a complex platform, like the plan launched by Minsal SaludableMente (web platform), use media closer to them such as television, telephone and radio, especially local radio.
The city government must come up with programs that will reduce the negative effects on the quality of life of the elderly, added Palomo. With the participation of professionals who specialize in geriatrics and gerontology, they can be applied at the environmental level, close to where the elderly live. “These programs must be monitored periodically (monthly) and evaluated every six months.”
The right thing to do is to recognize that old age, even though it is an inherent stage of disease onset, does not occur homogeneously. Chronological age, Aurenque said alone, it is not an accurate reflection of a person’s biological age or health. “It is unacceptable to consider any older adult as a possible patient or member of a ‘risk group'”.