Coronavirus in Argentina | How the blind face the difficulties of quarantine


The blindness implies a high degree of isolation. In times of quarantine, this escalates. And for blind people who are barely able to meet their basic needs, the reality in Covid-19 times gets even more complicated. From San Miguel, however, a group of specialists from the Nano Foundation continues working in the new circumstances to help those who regularly went to the Day and Stimulation Center.

Teachers, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists they devised new ways to contain, entertain and train the 65 attendees who received daily in their classes and workshops.

“He 80% of blind people you are over 55 years old. They are adults and older adults. This indicates that blindness came about by lack of access to health, for example for diabetes or glaucoma. That person did not get to a doctor and the consequence was that he became disabled, “explains María Bayá Casal, the Foundation’s executive director.

“There is a marriage between blindness and need. There are patients who they are diabetic, were not controlled, were not treated and were blind. We work with those types of people, “he adds.

Many live alone, and are doubly insulated now. “Others share the house with their relatives, who have informal jobs. They are gardeners, they sell chipá on public roads. Then, the disability pension becomes the single income, it feeds the entire family group, “he maintains.

The Nano Foundation mobiles then go to the houses to carry food. “Many of the blind people they don’t arrive to neighborhood community canteens. If they live alone, they do not dare to go out, and it is also not convenient for them to do so, because most of them are in a risk group due to pathology and age, “says Bayá Casal, adding:” They stay at home, who it is their shelter, their safety space, even in normal times. “

Blind people receive food in their homes. If they do not live alone, they have to share their pension with their families. (Photo: Nano Foundation)

The Foundation’s staff became the only link with the world: before calling any number, visually impaired people contact the institution’s telephone number and therapists, psychologists and social workers guarantee them contact with the outside.

What do blind people do in the solitude of their homes? Many of them, as well as the rest of the population isolated by the pandemic. “They spend a lot of time cooking, taking care of their diet. They also have a high consumption of the Internet, especially news related to the virus. We recommend that they not abuse, because fears assail them, exacerbated by the situation, “continues María.

Domestic damage that for others in the midst of quarantine are difficult to solve, for a visually impaired they entail a much greater difficulty. “In the group, one of them said that the refrigerator did not cool him, and that he did not know if it was because it had broken down or if the electricity had been cut off. risk which implies that a blind person brings a technician into your home, which is also very difficult to get now, is very high, “notes the director of the foundation.

Please do not break the cell phone, because they would be totally isolated.

“There is a lot of need for repairs that is not easy to solve. We advise them by phone, and we ask especially do not break them the cell phone because it is a basic means of communication for them, we even have a cell phone use workshop. If they cannot use it, they are totally isolated, “he continues.

“The arrival of service tickets it is usually solved with the help of a supportive neighbor, who reads them and informs them of the amount and maturity. With the purchase of medicines, if they are from PAMI, the doctor sends the prescription directly to the pharmacy and we pick them up and take them, without paying a peso, luckily. The same does not happen with IOMA or Include Health, unfortunately. The process is very complex, we buy them directly from them, “explains María.

It is common for people to order closets or cabinets, and this creates a risk of falls or cuts. “Fortunately we did not have to regret domestic accidents “, comments the president of Nano.

The ingenuity of the teachers and workshop leaders created a song sung by everyone, instructions to do yoga, theater exercises, radio theater. “We look for activities that make them feel alive, so that the social network we build is not lost,” he explains.

The biggest fear they have is getting sick and dying alone in the house.

The biggest fear that haunts them is “getting sick and dying alone in the house.” “What do I do if I think I have coronavirus and feel so bad that I can’t speak?” They ask. That fear is positive and reveals that they want to take care of themselves. The psychologist of the foundation is careful that the isolation do not generate depression.

One of the courses that generates the most interest is “Activities of daily life”, which refers to how to take care of the transmission of the coronavirus, hygiene routines, use of chinstraps. Permanent doubts and questions are clarified and answered by the occupational therapist.

The authorization of daily departures for people with disabilities does not reach the group. There is a lot of insecurity felt by people who lost their sight when they were older, because some have not yet developed the necessary routines. They themselves are aware of the risk of transmission and do not want to get sick.

“Depends on where you put your mind. If you are busy with tasks or are all the time thinking about how we are going to get out of this. I shop, clean, wash, listen to music, talk to my siblings, and try to keep myself busy. I carry it like this, always doing things, “says Víctor, who is 56 years old, blind and lives alone in Los Polvorines.

Malena is 63 years old and tells her experience: “I feel contained because they call me every day to see how I am, what I need, if my health is fine or if I notice any difference. They give us games, activities, dance, music and we form a group to be connected. We understand that we have to be locked up like everyone, for our own health, that makes it very clear to us. “

The group’s plans for when the threat ceases help maintain a positive spirit. “They plan to ffull day party, for the two shifts we have. There is already a list of guests, games, activities, choice of venue and even menu, “laughs Bayá Casal.

To the challenge of sustaining and containing the group, the foundation in the new context must add a concern. “We received payments for the nomenclator of the social works, which then in turn received a refund from a fund Superintendency of Health Services. There was a resolution of cut the amount in half in April. After a meeting with the sector, apparently They backed down. We hope this is the case, “he begs.

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