“It has been difficult in recent years. I see the withering in their eyes. There should be some joy at last.” These are the words of the social worker, Anna Joakim Patsalidou, who has been in charge of the Agia Marina Care Home for the Elderly for four years, in Strovolos, who described to the REPORTER the difficult months spent by the elderly living in the Home, due to of the pandemic and the restriction.
During the pandemic, the Home did not accept visitors and this created problems for the psychology of the elderly. The management, at that time, had given the greatest weight to the entertainment of the inmates, enriching their daily life with more music, dance and a sign of companionship, while it had taken the initiative and visits were made to the elderly from their relatives,  ?from the window, which brought smiles. o.
This effort continues to this day, but especially during the holidays. As explained Ms. Patsalidou, “the pandemic had limited visits and this resulted in the people living in the nursing home feeling strongly lonely, that's why we tried to have that staff spend more hours with them. They took the breaks as often as they could by their side, since then their relatives could not visit them, and I urged them to come outside the windows to greet them, so that I could see the joy in their faces again. But now, when things are a little more free and especially now that it's the holidays, choirs, volunteers, but also people who bring them gifts visit the place. As well as daily we put songs to entertain them. During the holidays, we prepare various events, such as cooking for those who can still cook and prepare various dishes such as cookies, gingerbread and others”.
Since Ms. Patsalidou took over Stegi, her main concern has been to make the people who live in the space feel as if they are at home. “Coming here I wanted to give more importance to the feeling of love, which is very important for the elderly. All these people need is to feel that there are people who care for them. My goal was to build a Shelter, as befits every resident here. We included programs, such as music therapy and occupational therapy, so that they themselves feel more active”.
Indeed, on the day we visited Stegi, a harmonium was set up in the living room… The music teacher handed out leaflets with Christmas song lyrics to the residents and everyone sang together, creating a beautiful festive atmosphere.
For the days of the holidays, the Shelter is open and the residents receive visits from their relatives, always with caution, due to the increase in infections in the community, while permission has been given to those who wish to visit their families on the same day for the festive tables. The only condition is that they return after first taking a test.
Of course, not everyone will be able to visit their families. Some for personal reasons, others for health reasons will remain at Stegi and spend the holidays there… Nevertheless, Ms. Jeni, Mr. Andreas, Mr. Yiannis, Mr. Petros, Ms. Panagiota and Ms. Angeliki shared with REPORTER their wishes for the new year. Among their wishes, the return to the occupied territories where they grew up, the resolution of the Cyprus issue, an end to the war in Ukraine, but also wishes for health throughout the world.
Jeni Gaitanopoulou, 84 years old
“I will spend these days here. It has been a while since my husband died that I have been in this space. I don't know if I'll go anywhere unless I'm invited by friends or family. My wish for the new year is that there will be no war. For one country to love the other. I hope so, but I don't think it's possible. As you can see, we still have a lot of fuss. But this is important to me. I was born in Palestine and I lived at a very young age what war means very well, until I came to Cyprus. This is my only wish. To give an end”.
Andreas Theodorou, 92 years old
“I have no family. My children are married and I don't know if they will come to get me. Maybe… I don't know yet. They come and see me, but not often. I used to go more often. My wish for the new year is for the Turks to leave and for a solution to be found in the Cyprus problem”.
Yiannis Oikonomidis 85 years old
“I've been here almost six years. I am waiting for the holidays for my brother to come and take me to his house, to celebrate there. Every year they come and get me. But here too we have a great time with the nurses and a few days ago we celebrated the Divine Liturgy. For the new year, I wish love, peace, health all over the world”.
Petros Petris, 93 years old
“I was in England for many years and came back in 1982. I am happy that I got my daughters married. I had a restaurant and the basement was bouzouki. One of my daughters comes and sees me regularly or another not so often. She will come to pick me up at her house for the family dinner. All I wish for in the new year is peace. I want peace after all these years”.
Panagiota Dimitriou, 85 years old He is two years old. I'm limited now because I'm sick, but we talk more on the phone. I don't wish much for the new year. I feel like I'm nearing the end. I will only wish that my children and grandchildren have a good year”.
Angeliki Zacharias, 80 years old
“We are waiting as we are waiting these days. Today when my son visited me, I told him that this year I want him to take me to my village. Kythrea. I had told him a month ago that we should go and roast a sheep and eat there. My son said I want I don't want he will take me with him to his house. I can't deny them. I've had a hard time in my life. I lost my husband in the war and raised my children alone. All I wish for the new year is to see everyone happy and to have no more bitterness in our lives”.
Andreas Christodoulou, 81 years old
“These days we have a great time here with music and songs. For the holidays I will go to my daughter's house where she will have a table. My only wish is for the whole world to be happy”.