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The Benefits of Progress

Spain is different from other European countries, or so it seems when you come here from the outside. Perhaps I should better say: Spain was different from other countries twenty, thirty years ago? The national and cultural specifics and habits of a country and society seem to get lost on the way to modernization, on the path to, supposedly, sophisticated progress. The individual suffers from it in the process, at least here in Spain, and gets confused, bewildered and often lonely.

Let’s take an example. When we arrived in Mallorca, in the late Eighties, it would have seemed unlikely that an elderly person, a parent, an old spinster or an elderly relative, would ever be sent into a retirement home. Such old-age pensioners’ homes simply did not exist, to my knowledge. Yes, there were church-run hospices looking after some elderly people who had no family members left to look after them. But, in general, elderly people were looked after and cared for by their own family members. Their very own off-spring or their nieces and nephews would take them into their homes to feed them, care for them, wash them, look after them and assure their well-being.

In the last 20 years, however, this tradition is becoming the exception to the rule. Residencias (care homes) have sprung up everywhere near us, in Campos, Felanitx, Santanyí, Manacor, and families are more willing than ever to let their fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts be looked after and cared for by the national health system and/or the municipal authorities, just like has happened in France, Germany, the Netherlands or the UK some twenty or thirty years earlier.

Perhaps Spain is no different from anywhere else in Europe. Perhaps Spain is just some twenty or thirty years behind the rest of Europe.

The photo was taken in Santanyí, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 3rd, 2011. The time was 17:37:47.

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