A 71-year old Seventh-day Adventist and grandmother in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s sixth-largest city and capital of the state of Minas Gerais, is helping her peers endure quarantine and separation from friends and family by creating and sharing a high-tech podcast.
Maria Celeste Lopes de Siqueira, 71, with her son-in-law’s assistance, created a Portuguese-language YouTube channel “I'm old, so what? ”. The contents are updated weekly and give tips on how to enjoy the quarantine with quality, feel pleasure in living, reduce anxiety, and recall memories of childhood and youth.
Before each recording, Celeste does a search on the internet to find out what subjects can be interesting to the elderly. She even invites health experts to talk about the topics. The video is edited by a professional and she has the help of her son-in-law to publish on social networks.
“When the elderly view the videos, they tell me they get emotional. I started doing a series called ‘Rescuing Memories.’ In it I talk about how grandpa and grandma used to live, and how things are nowadays,” she said.
Before the pandemic, Celeste went to services at the Belo Horizonte Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, did physical activities and received her grandchildren at home. During the pandemic, she and her husband of 52 years, Antonio Azevedo de Siqueira, 83, have been isolated from their church friends and family members. Celeste saw technology as a way to bridge the social isolation of the moment.
According to the psychologist and depression specialist Kenya Caxito, technology, if well used, helps in the mental health of the elderly. “It can and should be used for new learning, such as watching programs that bring knowledge. There is a lot available on the internet that can add to the lives of the elderly,” Caxito said.
Social life in old age
It is common that in old age the social circle decreases with the arrival of retirement, the children who marry and leave home, and other changing circumstances.
Claudio Meirelles, a sociologist and director of Adventist Education in Belo Horizonte, said while society isolates the elderly, the longing for community remains.
“There are rites of passage that mark the beginning of old age, such as retirement and entering the senior community. From there, people begin to struggle to find their place, through the construction of habits, beliefs and the formation of age groups, to try to deconstruct the loneliness,” Meirelles said. “Encouraging creativity and relationships between the generations is something that should, I believe, be on the agenda of the church and the family.”
Celeste knows that Grandparents Day, this year, celebrated on Sunday, July 26, will not be like in previous years, when her grandchildren were gathered around the house and being surrounded by hugs and kisses. Even so, she is nonetheless grateful for her health and for being able to see them, even on her cell phone screen.