Europe’s Largest Centenarian Community Did What America Cannot.

Protect The Elderly from COVID-19

I have followed the COVID-19 story there with keen interest and prayers. The good news is the daily new case rate peaked on March 28 at 53. In fact, Italy has the sixth-highest death rate across the globe.  What has Italy done that the USA cannot do? I invite you to travel back to Ancona with me to experience what an incredible sacrifice they have made with the pandemic.

Welcome to Ancona

REUNIONCare was selected to exhibit and present at Innov-aging expo-meeting. Ancona was chosen for this worldwide event as it is Europe’s Blue Zone community. I enjoyed an amazing walk up and down the Viale Della Vittoria from the Passetto on the coast of Ancona Italy to the Mole Vanvitellianna. The Ancona visitor map provides the best description of this amazing region: “To the heart of “Bel Paese” to the center of Italy, the Marche region, and to its capital Ancona, in a multiform relaxing territory where the quality of life is at the highest levels in Europe.

Europe’s Blue Zone

Throughout the centuries, Ancona has been a landing place of great civilizations: Piceni, Syracusan Dorians, and finally the Romans who favored its vocation as the door to the East.”More centenarians can be found in this region than anywhere else in Europe. The Fountain of Youth Juan Ponce de Leon sought in Florida was hiding to his west in Italy. I was staying in a rare Blue Zone.  Dan Buettner has circled the globe to discover communities where residents live to 100 years old and beyond.  The secret to their longevity is complex and rooted in their culture but central to all of these rare earth finds are practices of engaged communities, healthy diets, low stress, exercise, and most of all, feeling valued.  I recommend watching Dan Buettner’s TED Talk.  

Leadership Unites Italy During COVID-19

The lockdown began in mid-February.  A gradual re-opening began on June 1, 2020.  Bottom line, Italy followed the science.  No economic or political pressure outweighed the case and death rates as the most important factors in re-opening Italy for business.  Residents quarantined for months on end.  No one was exempt from following the instructions given by the local and national government.

No Life is Expendable

My stay in Ancona connected me to the people, not the place. I want to thank my parents who trained me to look at everyone squarely in the eyes. The local centenarians met my eyes with an equal and sharp intensity I perfected over a lifetime. I met the same faces sitting on the same benches every afternoon. I made up stories of their lives and as they did mine as we sized up each other. I felt accountable to them as they did to each other.

In fact, it was an exception to see anyone of any age with their eyes down on a screen when walking the promenade. In fact, cars crossing over the grand tree-lined walkway failed to mow down a single pedestrian without a traffic light compelling them to stop. These brief and significant engagements extend the length and quality of all of our lives. The Italian pace of life, with lengthy meals and conversations, reinforced the high levels of human contact. Slow cooking and garden-fresh ingredient required keen eyes to find the perfect combinations turning simplicity into pleasure. All experience through and between the eyes of each other.

USA Individuality Puts US at Risk

Can you imagine what will happen when we embrace each person around us to be as important as ourselves?  That is what it will take for the “United” States to reverse the tragic course we are on with this pandemic.  Children need to go to school, parents need to return to work, hospital workers need rest and seniors need to feel ‘seen’ just to name the most basic demographic needs of a functioning society.  This will not happen unless we pull together in the united sacrifice that this moment demands.  Look me in the eyes and answer this question. Italy stopped the virus,  why can’t we?

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