Growing Old in Cuba

Regina Cano

Photo: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS-Cuba

We’re now seeing them turn old, that generation of people who were born or were children when the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959.

We all become older starting from our first day of life, but it’s heartbreaking to see these people at their ages having to deal with upsetting ailments, bland food, harsh reality and reluctant support from their offspring.

This also concerns those who are now forty-something, people who were born after ‘59 and are now pushing fifty: the “lost generation.”

Aging should be a slow and comforting movement, not the pain of its rapid approach because many things have survived in the haste and fear of the final circumstances.

The present scenario with the younger generations is disheartening. They have a different sense of modesty and respect; their professional training has been fast track and they show the indifference of those who want to reach a goal by making the least effort.

Many have become nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, social workers, art instructors and teachers. These are the people who will attend to and teach the rest of society in the not-so-distant future.

I hope they have the needed curiosity. Likewise, I hope that in wanting to maintain their status they’ll see themselves obligated to fill in the gaps in their education, and obtain appropriate and perhaps painful solutions, but ones where they’ll get the necessary professionalism.

To graduate from university is a desired goal and it hasn’t been difficult to accomplish, since the mass extension of these studies has in fact facilitated it.

But how can one not tremble in the face of this unstable social relationship between the irresponsible young and the dependent elderly?

I assure you that an improper injection, the wrong medication, giving a bad moral example, making inappropriate decisions or misapplying plaster on a fracture so that leads to the disabling of someone permanently, are things that can happen by human error. But if the percentage of those incidents increases because of professional incompetence, we need to be afraid.

The problem is that in time we’ll be the ones dealing with bland food and harsh realities. In fact we’re already in line.

One thought on “Growing Old in Cuba

  • Regina, I find your post very topical (current). Those people who supported the revolution, its ideology faithfully and worked hard for decades and spent all their lives on defending, improving and keeping it alive now have to face hardship in their everyday lives , and are neglected. These people should be more respected by the society.

    The middle generation, I mean the Cubans in their forties and early fifties also devote their youth and the most fruitful and productive years to the same ideology. They may face the same problems of their parents’ generation after being retired.
    What do you think? Will these people retire at the same age as their parents, or some years later? I mean, will the age of retirement raised in the future? Will their pension be paid by the state?

    Could you explain, please why the young generation is so different from their parents’ generation? What process has taken place in the Cuban society for the past decades?

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