This behavior showed us also the many stereotypes that accompany the condition of seniority. Elderly people are considered useless, they are just a burden , an expense, a waste of public resources, and, even worse, they steal our future with pensions they do not deserve. Yet, this is all proven to be absolutely false. In fact, what research demonstrates about the elderly is that they contribute in an essential way to the economic and social development of Italy. Elderly people support their families with pensions and free jobs and care. Moreover, elderly people are engaged in civil protection and volunteering. The deeply rooted, false ideas about elderly come from neo-liberal thinking, the same complex of ideas that in Lombardy (the most affected region in Italy by Covid-19) has cut the public health system in favour of private health-care. The same false neo-liberal capitalist ideas that in Italy forced cuts to public health spending by € 37 billion over the past ten years. In a productive and eternal growth perspective there is no role for the elderly.
Another central concern, in the follow up or “second phase” is solitude, social distance and the feeling of having been abandoned. We must, at least should, think of an effective and efficient welfare for the elderly, but also inclusive and participatory. According to this approach, digital technologies could help to achieve a part of elderly caring, but what will really help to move forward is to change our mindsets about elderly stereotypical images.
I do not deny that in Italy we have been dealing with a huge problem, gerontocracy, but looking at the young Italian political leaders it seems we have an even bigger problem, possibly inherited by a previous un-caring culture, i.e. lack of perspective and of innovative ideas for the future, as youth cannot be a value in itself.
At least two scenarios could result from this “unexpected revolution”: first, after covid-19 everything will change; second, after Covid-19 business will take it all. We have to think hard about what we want to leave behind, and what we want to bring with us into this ”unexpected future”. There are different reflections that we could apply. Personal reflection: what was my experience during the Pandemic, what I am learning, what I am feeling in different moments of the Pandemic, what is really import to me, that means leave something and bring something instead of, make choices. Community level: what is the lesson for the community, bad and good feelings, new model of organization and engagement. Policy level: Pandemic is a crisis, as the sociologist Franco Ferrarotti said the crisis is an epiphany, it is time to grab the opportunity for a real change. Nobody can saves himself. It is time to reveal that we have often mistaken the means for the end, i.e profit for happiness.
I would suggest listening to the elderly voices because they could help.