Wise words from our Elders on how to get through the pandemic

They have overcome war, famine, poverty, pre-mature death of loved ones and severe illness.

These life events have fostered resilience in our elders, and they have some words of wisdom to pass to the younger generation who must now nurture their own resilience.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first time that many young people have had to face severe uncertainty.

Young people are feeling the effects of the pandemic  differently: from diminished future job prospects, education stoppages, grief for freedoms lost and eventually a lack of liveable superannuation funds.
Our elders are the best  people to offer advice on staying positive and being  resilient during uncertain and difficult times.
That’s why at Fronditha Care, the not-for-profit aged care provider, our elders have offered their advice on what has gotten them through the worst and kept them fighting.

Welcome to the school of life from our elders

One of the things that strikes you when you meet Ilias Kalopisis is his forever present smile.  He is genuinely happy to meet you and is beyond curious to find out about your life despite having a hugely
interesting story himself.

From a very early age he had a hard life. His mother died early, leaving his father alone to raise six children during WWII.
“In 1941 we saw famine. A huge famine. That is where I lost one of my brothers, he was only 18 years old,” he tells us.

“In order to save the other children, my father  decided to take us to Tripoli.

We walked for 10 days, mostly at night because it was hot in the day.”

Life in the village was slightly easier as they could grow their own food. But as they reached working age, they moved to Athens before making the decision to migrate to Australia.
Sold on the promise of high wages and an easy life, Mr Kalopisis moved to Melbourne with his beloved wife Eleni waiting for him in Greece.
But once again, he had to fight for a liveable life.

He moved to Mildura where there was work in the orange groves. Still, he managed to keep a positive outlook.
He had nothing to send his wife but, he thought, he would send her what he had – a flower.

Eventually, Eleni and Ilias were reunited in Australia and things got better. Ilias’ smile continued.

“Be optimistic,” he advises.

“Do not be afraid and fight in life. If you give up, you lose.”“Hold your head up and push on.”

“Have patience and everything will pass.” Ilias is now the primary carer of his wife Eleni who lives with dementia.

With help from Fronditha Care’s community services, they continue to live a happy and simple life together at home.
Living at Fronditha Care’s residential aged care  facility in Thornbury we meet Mr Stavros Arvanitis.

A well kempt man with striking white hair framing his face, he remembers the difficulties of migration like it was yesterday.
“Five families lived in a five-room house in the beginning,” he recalls.

“But we had two kitchens, so that was something too.”

Life got a bit easier when he started his own family. He would find happiness in watching his children play.
One of his favourite memories he says was getting his children to dance by giving them a few coins.

“They left me penniless,” he laughs.

Mr Arvanitis doesn’t hide that when he heard about the coronavirus he was worried. But for him, the key to getting through hardship is patience.

“For me the greatest virtue is patience,” he says.  “If you have patience, you have peace, and heart and everything that comes with it.”

“Even if you are alone at home, don’t be upset. Just turn the TV on, dance and it will pass.”

Next to Mr Arvanitis sits Aphrodite Petinatou, a fellow resident at the Thornbury facility.  She spent most of her life helping the sick in hospital by delivering food.

“I tried to give them courage,” she says when going on her rounds. This is what she highlights when she talks to someone about the coronavirus. “Patience is my best advice,” she says.

“The coronavirus will pass, everything passes at some point.”

For Effie Stefanidis, the coronavirus has changed her routine. Still living at home with her husband and the assistance of personal care workers from Fronditha Care, she believes the best advice is to follow instructions.

“Clean everything, the mask, everything. It’s necessary,” she says.

“But love will win conquer all. “We must love one another because we are all children of God. “Let’s be careful and pray and this will pass.”

For more advice and stories from our elders, please follow @frondithacare on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.
For more information about Fronditha Care, please visit frondithacare.org.au.

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