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Maria's Letter

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Maria's Letter


Five hundred thousand signatures have been collected all over the world to contrast institutionalization and to allow those who are elderly and have difficulties to remain home.

Read the letter and mail us your adhesion

 I am almost 75 years old, I live alone in my house, the same house where I used to live with my husband and the house that my two children left when they got married.

I have always been proud of my independence, but recently it hasn't been the same as it used to be, most of all, I think about my future. I am still self-sufficient, but for how much longer? I realise that my movements have become more awkward, though many people still tell me; "If only I could be like you at your age". Shopping and cleaning the house are becoming more difficult.

And so, I think: "What will my future be?". When I was young that answer was easy: With my daughter, my son-in-law, and with my grandchildren. But now, how is it possible with smaller houses and all the family members working? Just like yesterday, today the answer is easy: the institution.

Everyone says it, it is terrible. Everyone knows but they don't say, that no-one wants to leave his or her house, and live in an institution.

I do not believe that a bed, a locker, a cubicle and an anonymous life are better than your own house, where every single object; a picture, a photograph, remember have memories that fill the days.

Often people say: "We put him in a beautiful institution, for his own good". They may also be sincere but they do not have to live there. But this is not a necessary solution to the problem.

Even if you don’t end up in one of those institutions you see on TV, where nurses mistreat you just because they are frustrated with their job, I do not think an institution is not the answer to those who are weak and most of all alone. Is it a real way to overcoming loneliness, suddenly living with strangers, with people you did not chose nor wants?

I am well aware what life is like in the institutions.

You want to rest and you cannot, because of the noise, coughs and the different habits of the others. Elderly people are said to make "much ado about nothing". But it is not hard to imagine that you want to read and there someone else wants the lights off, you want to see a programme and another is on or the time is not right.

But it is not hard to imagine that you want to read and there someone else wants the lights off, you want to see a programme and another is on or the time is not right.

In an institution even the most banal problems become more difficult; to get your daily newspaper, to have your glasses repaired if they break, to buy what you need if you cannot go out.

Often at the laundry, your underclothes are exchanged with someone else’s and then you cannot keep anything for yourself.

Maybe the food is all right but you cannot choose what or when to eat. You cannot choose when to get up and when to stay in bed, when to switch the lights on or to switch them off. And then when you are older, (and it is even more embarrassing as you feel less beautiful than before) you are obliged to share everything: illness, physical weakness, sorrows, without any privacy.

Someone says that in an institution " you have everything, without burdening anyone." But it is not true. You don’t have all that you need, and it is not the only way to burden your loved ones.

There is an alternative! I could remain at home with a little home help assistance.

This service already exists, but it is more on paper that in reality. Every administration should guarantee this assistance. Actually, we are many and we could stay at home with only a little assistance from the physiotherapist, the doctor, and the nurse.

And it is not true that is too expensive. These services are three or four times less expensive than an eventual admission to an old people’s home and an institution. People say that abroad, the situation is different. Here in Europe you may end up in an institution and it may not even have been your decision. I don’t understand why the deceased person’s will is respected, while you are not listened to when you are alive, if you do not want to go into an institution.

I heard on television that millions of pounds are allocated to build new institutions and organise 140,000 hospital beds. If I lived in a hut, I would be happy. But I do have a house and a bed, I already have my bed; there is no need to build other kitchens to prepare my meals; you can use mine. There is no need to have a big hall with other people to watch television: I already have my television in my room. My bathroom is working properly, and my house would require only some handrails and wall handles, it would be a lot less expensive.

What I wish for my future is the freedom to choose whether I want to spend the last years of my life at home or somewhere else. Today I do not have this freedom.

It is very difficult to take advantage of the home help assistance, almost impossible: the requests are many and the service is still too limited. But if the home help assistance were more developed, and everyone who needs it could have it, you could also avoid building many new and expensive institutions, and even the hospitals would not be so over crowded.

Though I am not young anymore, I would like to say clearly that I do not want to go to an institution and I do not wish it on anyone.

Help me and all the others to remain at home, surrounded by our own things. Maybe I will live longer, certainly I will live better.



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