Changes related to the aging process, which are exacerbated by many diseases, such as dementia, lead some older people to special care that cannot always be provided at home. In these cases, the decision to integrate into residential structures for the elderly (ERPI, usually called nursing homes) is the best option to ensure the well-being of these citizens. In Portugal, this type of response has shown occupancy rates above 90%, which is an alternative for a growing number of people.
Recognized citizens of ERPI often have vulnerabilities of varying complexity, linked to physical, emotional / psychological or contextual factors that cause them to depend on third parties for basic needs or some activities of daily life (ADL).
Institutionalization has a dual effect on the lives of the elderly: it represents a loss of independence and translates into marked changes in family and social relationships. It engenders feelings of mistrust and fear of abuse, compromising physical and psychological integrity, and the abandonment and loss of freedom.
However, it could contribute to significant improvements in terms of social interactions, combating loneliness (promoted by care teams) and accessing specialized care, such as psychological intervention and cognitive rehabilitation, with an impact on the development of some diseases, as has been observed in dementia. Given the state of vulnerability due to age or health impairment (physical and psychological), the elderly need special care that favors successful aging, where the preservation of autonomy, the effective exercise of the right to self-determination and respect for human dignity is in the middle.
Implementation of work dynamics close to the family environment, adjustment preference and psychological health promotion for the elderly, such as opportunities for social interaction with people of the same age group, with children and youth (providing intergenerational exchange), with family and friends, inside and outside the institution, is one of the main areas of activity in These contexts. These practices allow to maintain or improve dimensions related to cognition, behaviors and emotions, and reduce loneliness or abandonment.
Despite the impact of the epidemic on providing care for the elderly, the pursuit of goals related to the preservation and development of emotional relationships and social interactions is gaining greater importance and importance because the task of these social responses is not only because of their relationship to healthy and successful aging, but also because it is a fundamental right, which is the right to Dignity, which must be urgently protected.
More than a year after the start of the epidemic and despite the real disasters that many emergency response programs have witnessed, today, thanks to the various measures that have been implemented, including the vaccination process against Covid-19, the return to normal life and the guarantee of effective aging with health and wellness .