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This Christmas, what place for the elderly?



Usually at Christmas, she puts the small dishes in the big ones. Each year, Luce receives her son, her daughter-in-law, her mother – who is 94 years old – as well as her grandchildren. But this year, she will be alone with her husband on the evening of December 24, as her son’s family has chosen to strictly confine themselves and not to come with the old lady. “They don’t want to put him at risk and will simply visit him on the 25th”, explains Luce. She understands this vigilance, but feels a pinch in her heart: “Is it fair to deprive this woman of what may be her last Christmas?” “

At the end of the year, families are asking themselves new and far from light questions. How much do we put a loved one at risk? What is the meaning of life for the most fragile if we isolate them too much? “These questions are particularly painful at Christmas because it is a special time, estimates sociologist François de Singly. A Christmas without grandparents is not really one, and from the perspective of the elderly, being deprived of Christmas is a bit like being deprived of family. “

“Three generations must therefore be present”

According to him, it is the very meaning of Christmas that is questioned here. “This is the moment when the family takes the stage: the child unwraps his gifts under the benevolent gaze of the elderly, resumes François de Singly. This feast is perhaps more that of grandparents than that of children, who are celebrated all year round. In a society where age differences are growing between generations, each living more and more in its own culture, Christmas is intergenerational. Despite these growing gaps, the family remains. “

→ MAINTENANCE. Covid-19: How to reinvent the Christmas spirit in times of pandemic?

Armelle Le Bigot Macaux, president of the European School for Grandparents (EGPE), welcomes in this regard the willingness of the authorities to “Save Christmas” : “We are left to decide for ourselves. ” In his association, advice is exchanged and ideas flourish: “I know people who will leave their apartment to their children, since it is bigger, and will only come for an hour or two, so that they can be there without taking too much risk. “

The delicate situation of nursing homes

There remains the even more delicate situation of residents of nursing homes, who are more vulnerable because they are older. Should we invite them to the party or, on the contrary, wait for better days and the imminent arrival of the vaccine? Pascal Champvert, president of the AD-PA which represents directors of establishments, warns about what he considers to be a false promise. “The vaccination will take time and there will not be vaccines for everyone right away. “ He therefore decided to leave the choice to the residents of his own establishment: “They can go out and celebrate Christmas with their families. The only constraint which will then be imposed on them will be to remain in quarantine for seven days upon return to the establishment. This will allow them to be tested in good conditions. “

A binding condition and which can further add to the doubts of families. “You have to start from what the elderly person wants for themselves, advises Pascal Champvert. If she is too worried, then she should be able to stay in an institution. The time slots for family visits have been extended for this purpose. If, conversely, she has had enough of this impression of endless day and wants to see her loved ones again, she must be able to go out for Christmas, while respecting barrier gestures. “ This Christmas like no other could become “The opportunity for our society, which too often devalues ​​advancing age, to put the elderly really at the center of the decision”, hopes the director.

At EGPE, Armelle Le Bigot Macaux has already observed better cooperation between generations. “Usually, young grandparents invite the family over and take care of a bit of everything, she remarks. This year, our children invest more, they call us, ask us what suits us. It’s nice to see them take up the torch. “

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