Lisbon / Her name is Margarida, she is 18 years old and since her forced confinement by COVID-19 she has adopted Luzia, an 89-year-old woman who lives alone in the Portuguese city of Abrantes and has no one to talk to. It is part of the “Adopt a grandfather” project, which is increasingly in demand among the older Portuguese.
“It is important that older people feel that someone cares about them,” explains the psychologist Teresa Valente, a 23-year-old young woman who launched the “Adopt a grandfather” challenge among the Christian community of Abrantes, in the Central region of Portugal, in order to put themselves at the service of others in times of confinement.
The initial goal is to pair youth with elders through telephone contact to help them cope with their loneliness while confinement lasts.
“There are more and more older people in Abrantes who want to be adopted by some young person,” says Valente.
A “grandson” to better pass the crisis
In fact, after the first week, a dozen young people have made it possible for as many grandparents to have “one grandson” to better overcome the coronavirus crisis.
João Galveias, a computer engineering student in Lisbon, tells EFE that his “grandmother” Madalena, 70, faces this situation “in a very positive way” and that he talks to her every day for about twenty minutes on the topics that most concern you.
The conversation is very varied, Valente continues, and in some cases they can be on the phone for two hours because grandparents have a great need to feel heard.
They talk about everything, about life, about their memories, the difficulties of the elderly during confinement, the Portuguese television programs or about God.
“We want the grandparents to feel that they belong to a community, that they are not alone and to transmit to them that we are going to do this together,” explains the psychologist.
Margarida, an 18-year-old psychology student in Covilhã (north), is “eager” for the restrictions to be lifted to embrace her 89-year-old “grandmother” Luzia, whom she doesn’t meet in person although they talk on the phone daily .
Most of them have no family
These are the elderly who, in most cases, have no family, suffer from some type of ailment and in these weeks of confinement due to the state of emergency decreed by the Government to stop the spread of the virus, they also have no one who can help them with the most basic household chores.
“The fact that they have someone to talk to, even on the phone, is already very positive,” Valente insists.
They are people who these days cannot leave home at any time and “nobody cares about them.”
The number of volunteers grows and “we already have six young people on the waiting list ready to adopt more grandparents who are alone,” adds Teresa Valente, who works in Lisbon but has decided to return to her homeland, Abrantes, to “telework” while the state of emergency in Portugal lasts.
Also the list of grandparents increases as they get to know the experience of others, as has happened to an old woman who, after hearing from her sister how she relates to her “grandson”, has not wanted to be less and has asked to be ” adopted”.
Valente does not know how this initiative will continue after the quarantine, although the “grandchildren” prepare a surprise party to hug their “grandparents” when the confinement is lifted. (April 7, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)