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Today we would like to introduce you Valentina Collevecchio, psychologist at Casa di riposo Villa Miramare, in Nettuno (Italy).

📌 Why is care at all stages of life essential?
It is common to think of old age as a somewhat unpleasant and secondary stage of life, not worth talking about. This is not the case, not least because it can potentially be the longest part of life. Old age begins at 65, but there are many who also live the fourth age to the full and reach the threshold of 100 lucidly. However, for those who have the privilege, the road is not easy: there is pain, illness and grief (real and symbolic), but these are not stumbling blocks along the way because they themselves are the road.
📌 How long have you been a member of the Sisters Hospitallers?
My collaboration with the Sisters Hospitallers of Nettuno, specifically with Villa Miramare, dates back to seventeen summers ago, back in 2006. As is often the case with the important things in life, it was a meeting that came about quite by chance and a little out of mutual necessity. Since then, my role and my presence in the hospital community have greatly enriched and evolved.
📌 What is your purpose and mission in helping the Hospitaller Sisters?
I deal with psychometric assessment, prevention and treatment of cognitive impairment, as well as report writing. However, these activities are only “the tip of the iceberg”, because the work with older people is vast and deep. It is rooted in the family and the area to which the older person belongs. The question arose for me “what does a psychotherapist, and a psychoanalyst at that, do with such large and sometimes very committed guests? I found the answer with time, just as it happens in an analytical way. The psychotherapist, in this reality, sows, cultivates and gathers.
The older person is often not like the iconographic Father Christmas, who was never young and will never really age. The older person is first and foremost a person at an advanced stage of life compared to his or her caregiver. He is neither “less” young nor “more” adult, he is Other and Beyond. That is, different and temporarily more advanced. In my work, in addition to the psycho-cognitive state of each guest, I also work on the acceptance of senescence, not only in the guests, but also in their families, and it is often more difficult with the latter. Sometimes the relatives do not quite know how to cope with the problems of old age and need to be equipped; sometimes they need to be supported in the painful and exhausting dementia and various illnesses.
With older people, the psychic work is incessant. Growing old means coming to terms with “separation”, the “end” of many previously stable and established realities. Think of any chronic condition, which can irretrievably separate a person from his or her state of health; or of widowhood, which always affects a partner; or of leaving home; or, even more simply, of separation from one’s own motor autonomy.
In short, it is an integral, intense and profound work that has only been possible thanks to the approach of the Sisters of this Congregation, who have always believed in, encouraged and supported the centrality of the Person and not only of the illness. The trust that the Sisters placed in the figure of the Psychologist in the geriatric context, which made the areas and limits of my work grow with important, constant and pleasant results (not only in terms of open-mindedness, but also in the rigour of the research). They guarantee, in my opinion, the construction of a high level of care.