"Night is the worst time". When she turns off the TV, when no one can be heard on the street through the window, this is when loneliness gets bigger in the basement where 90-year-old Angeles lives. Loneliness is a very personal feeling that can have an effect on well-being and physical and mental health, not only in old age, but at any age.
Despite a whole series of operations that complicate her mobility, Ángeles can still climb the stairs that give her access to the street (she has no elevator) and stroll through her neighborhood, greet some neighbors and, above all, meet her friend Hania. They are separated by almost 60 years, but they are "great friends": they appreciate each other, look after each other, support each other and enjoy life together every week, along with Antonia, 83, who completes this triangle of friendship and neighbors that was born a couple of summers ago. In August, that stifling month when the streets of the big cities empty deepening the loneliness of so many older people, these three women were fortunate enough to agree on a mini-holiday in the mountains organized by the Grandes Amigos NGO. That’s where they began to win the daily battle of solitude.
The story of Angels, 90, could be the story of anyone reading this. Maybe now you don’t recognize yourself in this woman who lives alone in a basement in the Vallecas neighborhood of Madrid, with few resources, with reduced health, with hardly any family or social network.
You may grow older in a different situation, but what unites us – even though we don't want to admit it - is the possibility of aging feeling alone, without a friendly voice to listen to us, to understand us, to make us laugh and to treat us as equals, without charity, but from the perspective of mutual support and reciprocal affection that are naturally and voluntarily provided by friends or good neighbors. And that is what we do in the Grandes Amigos NGO. We create emotional relationships that allow any person to age with dignity.
This goal makes even more sense in an increasingly individualistic, materialistic and impersonal world like our current one, which is committed to rejecting old age and, therefore, discriminating against today's older people like Angels, but also against those who are younger today, because who does not dream of being older?
At Sé Solidario (Be Charitable), we support the Grandes Amigos NGO so that more and more older people enjoy their work of emotional support and socialization, contributing to build a more inclusive and egalitarian society that neither discriminates nor isolates just because someone is aging.