The Everyday Drama of Elderly People's Loneliness by Giulio D’Ercole

Life expectancy in Western society has grown more than significantly in recent decades. Italy is the oldest country in Europe, with a percentage of 23% of the population over 65 years old. However, the medical conditions of many elderly people have not improved as they now suffer from severe disabling diseases for many years in the end of their lives. But beyond the medical aspect, these people, once active and an integral part of society, today suffer from a devastating social and cultural marginalization, caused by the technological gap with the younger generations and the lack of interest of the latter towards them. As much as I often see awareness-raising photo reportages focusing on saddening people’s conditions, terminal diseases, or other extraordinary situations, I must say, I do not see the same kind of attention to the drama of common, ordinary, everyday life. This drama surfaced in 2020, when the Coronavirus pandemic and the death brought by Covid-19 brought to light all the vulnerability of the over 65, asking the various countries of the world a fundamental question: do we have to sacrifice our old people seeking herd immunity or do we have to safeguard and protect them? Paradoxically it might be because I saw my father dying of a brain tumor and I am now taking care of my mother, afflicted by a progressive mental decline due to senile dementia, that I chose to focus on the profound “normal and ordinary” everyday loneliness of those men and women that I observe in the streets of my hometown, who could be our grandparents, parents, uncles, and aunts: those who, sometime back in our past, took care of others with their dedication, attention, and love. These ten photos, these ten street photography images, taken in Rome during the last three summers, without indulging in shocking, sensationalistic human suffering, tell the everyday subtle decline and struggles of the most vulnerable. The very same one we are too often blind to before tragedy makes the headlines.