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For Gibraltar’s older citizens, pandemic takes a painful toll

Pic: PA Photo

The second lockdown has taken a toll on many people, especially on Gibraltar’s senior citizens who are mourning the death of their peers and loved ones to Covid-19 while many find themselves alone.
Both the pandemic and concerns over loneliness were highlighted in the recent Gibraltar Senior Citizens’ Association newsletter.
“It breaks my heart to hear of these deaths,” association President, Manolo Ruiz, told the Chronicle.
“Hardly a day goes by when I know of someone who has died who has been an acquaintance or a friend or somebody who I have met practically every day or every week.”
“The people who are dying are my age.”
In the newsletter, Mr Ruiz also placed a spotlight on the loneliness among the senior citizens in Gibraltar.
With a Covid-19 lockdown in place, this has been further exacerbated, although he said many members are “doing what they can” in order to cope.
The Gibraltar Senior Citizens’ Association began its loneliness campaign some three years ago, and just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Sophie Clifton-Tucker and Jason Harper hosted tea once a month for the elderly.
But while the catering establishments have had to remain shut under lockdown rules, it also means that many people who would have ordinarily met with friends for a coffee in the morning cannot meet either, Mr Ruiz said.
For those who already have groups of friends, Mr Ruiz suggested they reach out to other friends who they know are alone to join them.
But before restaurants and meet ups are allowed, Mr Ruiz is calling for the community to think of ways to help the elderly while addressing the issue of loneliness.
“All I ask for is a bit of consciousness and a bit of awareness of people who are very, very lonely,” Mr Ruiz said.
“What about those who live alone, who don’t speak to many people and are cut off from their families? Who reaches out to them and asks them if they would like something from the supermarket?”
“I want people to be more aware of those people who live alone who need help and probably are very proud or ashamed to ask for it, because they don’t want to inconvenience anyone.”
“But as a community we must do something to eradicate as much as possible this loneliness that is very prevalent in Gibraltar.”
“There are many people who live alone and who are very, very lonely.”
Families and loved ones are encouraged to be a lot more “proactive” in contacting their grandparents and parents.
Meanwhile Mr Ruiz also said neighbours also play an important role to play in helping to eradicate loneliness, and asked that they speak to those living next door, adding that it would “help tremendously”.
In addition, the Gibraltar Senior Citizens’ Association has written to the Minister for Health, Samantha Sacramento, to ask if the “Meals on Wheels” service is limited to just ERS residents or for all qualifying senior citizens.
Mr Ruiz said there are many elderly people who live alone, or due to circumstance may not be eating adequately and asks that the provision also be made for them.

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