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AP PHOTOS: Argentine elderly make do during virus isolation

Victor Tripiana, 86, reaches out to touch the hand of his daughter-in-law Silvia Fernandez Sotto, separated by a plastic sheet to prevent the spread o...
Nurse Rocio Lescano touches foreheads with Victor Tripiana, 86, at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5,...
Nurse Rocio Lescano, 86, helps Victor Tripiana in his chair in front of a window where he visits with his family on the other side, at the Reminiscenc...
A worker builds a see-through barrier that will have sleeves for hugging at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday,...
Seniors, from left, Victor Tripiana, Catalina Pisicelli, Pedro Aberastegui and Fermin Urban make a toast before dinner at Reminiscencias residence in ...
Pedro Aberastegui holds hands with fellow senior resident Catalina Pisicelli as they sing the Argentine national anthem before dinner at Reminiscencia...
Fermin Urban and Catalina Pisicelli lie in bed in their room at the Reminiscencias residence, where they met last year in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, A...
Delia Solbach attends an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do...
Nurse Rocio Lescano feeds Dora Amestoy her breakfast at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Resi...
A woman eats lunch at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical co...
Fermin Urban, left, Victor Tripiana, center, and Pedro Aberastegui rest during a break between activities at the Reminiscencias residence for the elde...
Debora Aberastegui holds the hands of her father Pedro Aberastegui through a plastic sleeve at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil,...
Delia Solbach holds up a ball during an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Re...
Arceli Armando watches her son wave to her from outside of the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly where she lives in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, ...
Belen Corrado leads an exercise class at Reminiscencias residence in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical con...
Elderly women rest at a table during a pause between activities at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4,...
Ramiro Pisani holds the hands of his grandfather Pedro Aberastegui through a plastic sleeve from outside the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly ...
Men visit their mothers living at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have...
Delia Solbach attends an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do...
Delia Solbach heads to bed at the Reminiscencias residence in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Residents here do not have physical contact wi...
Women sit together at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical co...
Victor Tripiana, 86, is put to bed by a nurse at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Residents h...
Thelma Amezua sits in the garden at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not ha...

Victor Tripiana, 86, reaches out to touch the hand of his daughter-in-law Silvia Fernandez Sotto, separated by a plastic sheet to prevent the spread o...

Nurse Rocio Lescano touches foreheads with Victor Tripiana, 86, at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5,...

Nurse Rocio Lescano, 86, helps Victor Tripiana in his chair in front of a window where he visits with his family on the other side, at the Reminiscenc...

A worker builds a see-through barrier that will have sleeves for hugging at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday,...

Seniors, from left, Victor Tripiana, Catalina Pisicelli, Pedro Aberastegui and Fermin Urban make a toast before dinner at Reminiscencias residence in ...

Pedro Aberastegui holds hands with fellow senior resident Catalina Pisicelli as they sing the Argentine national anthem before dinner at Reminiscencia...

Fermin Urban and Catalina Pisicelli lie in bed in their room at the Reminiscencias residence, where they met last year in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, A...

Delia Solbach attends an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do...

Nurse Rocio Lescano feeds Dora Amestoy her breakfast at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Resi...

A woman eats lunch at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical co...

Fermin Urban, left, Victor Tripiana, center, and Pedro Aberastegui rest during a break between activities at the Reminiscencias residence for the elde...

Debora Aberastegui holds the hands of her father Pedro Aberastegui through a plastic sleeve at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil,...

Delia Solbach holds up a ball during an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Re...

Arceli Armando watches her son wave to her from outside of the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly where she lives in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, ...

Belen Corrado leads an exercise class at Reminiscencias residence in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical con...

Elderly women rest at a table during a pause between activities at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4,...

Ramiro Pisani holds the hands of his grandfather Pedro Aberastegui through a plastic sleeve from outside the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly ...

Men visit their mothers living at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have...

Delia Solbach attends an exercise class at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do...

Delia Solbach heads to bed at the Reminiscencias residence in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Residents here do not have physical contact wi...

Women sit together at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not have physical co...

Victor Tripiana, 86, is put to bed by a nurse at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Sunday, April 4, 2021. Residents h...

Thelma Amezua sits in the garden at the Reminiscencias residence for the elderly in Tandil, Argentina, Monday, April 5, 2021. Residents here do not ha...

TANDIL, Argentina (AP) — For many at the Reminiscencias home for the elderly, the pandemic has been 15 months of isolation from those they love — of children kept at a distance, of human touch always at least a layer of plastic away.

Eighty-six year-old Víctor Tripiana peered at his son Jorge through a transparent sheet hung across a window and reached out to make contact through the plastic. His daughter in law, too, stretched a hand for comfort.

“This pandemic has hit us bad,” he said, his eyes moist. “You know what's happening? It's like I'm in the air and I don't know what I'm doing."

Nurses and attendants offer comfort: help with a cup, a gentle forehead bump, even the occasional brush of a kiss, mediated by a mask.

But a few, at least, have heir own consolation. Catalina Pisicelli, 93, and Fermín Urban, 92, seem to have found love in the time of pandemic, someone with whom to snuggle.

“What I'm going to say is a sin ... but for us, the pandemic doesn't exist; we live on the moon,” Pisicelli said.

Urban said he's still thinking ahead, telling Pisicelli that when they can leave once more, he wants to take her to Lanus, the city where he was born.

Much of the routine at the assisted living center, some 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the capital, is as before. The more than 50 residents still have their dance and exercise classes and singalongs, share a toast of champagne at holidays such as Easter.

Outside, the country of 45 million people has recorded more than 2.4 million cases of COVID-19 and about 56,000 deaths.

With cases soaring in Argentina, the home's director, Anahi Soulié, felt obligated to once again install plastic barriers between residents and their relatives, who sometimes stand outside and converse through windows.

“They feel anguish, but it's super useful, it saved us," Soulié said, referring to measures used during a first wave of cases last year.

The face of Pedro Aberastegui lit up when his daughter Debora and his grandson reached to touch him using special sleeves in the protective plastic sheet hung across the door.

As in most countries, the elderly were among the first to be vaccinated in Argentina and the folks at Reminiscencias are due to get their second and final shot soon — with hopes of a return to greater normality.

Seventy-nine-year-old Thelma Amezua, meanwhile, took a bit of solitude on a patio bench, watching the hummingbirds flit between flowers. She said she was well cared for, but yearned for more freedom, to be able to go out for a coffee with her family.

“I feel like the pandemic robbed me of a year of life,” she said. “One goes to the door, looks out and asks, ‘Will I be able to leave again?’”


Updated : 2021-04-14 05:03 GMT+08:00