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Grandfather, 80, becomes Spain’s oldest Erasmus student

He is 80 years old, has suffered a heart attack and quadruple bypass, but on Monday this Spanish grandfather will head off to start a new semester as an Erasmus student in Italy.

Grandfather, 80, becomes Spain’s oldest Erasmus student
Miguel Castillo being interviewed for Antena 3 Noticias.

Miguel Castillo, who is a father of three and grandfather of six, has leapt into the limelight after it emerged that he had won an Erasmus grant to pursue his studies at a university in Verona.

Years after retiring from a successful career as a notary, the octogenarian chose to resume his studies and enrolled in a history degree at Valencia University.

 “It was a typical retirement,” he said in an interview with the Valencian newspaper Las Provincias. “I looked after the grandchildren, went for walks, played golf, but didn’t do much.”

Then at 75-years-old he suffered a heart attack and was given a quadruple heart bypass.

“On the road to recovery I told myself 'I would like to do something beyond the classic napping’,” he explained.

So he enrolled for a degree in modern history and each day attends classes with students who are a quarter of his age.

READ: Want to know the secret to long life? Live in Spain

On Monday, he joins the hundreds of students who won Erasmus study abroad grants to spend a semester at another university in Europe.

“I opted for Verona, in Italy because I was there 42 years ago to see Maria Callas perform,” said the opera buff.

Unlike other students though, he says he will not be staying in a college dorm.

“My wife is coming with me and we will stay in a hotel for a while and then move into an apartment,” he explained. “My wife says that she doesn’t see us at a pijama party.”

Castillo said he gets on very well with other students who have become his friends and wants to inspire other elderly people not to be limited by their age.

“Don’t lock yourself up at home, open up to the world, because we can contribute so much and can also receive a lot from society,” he said.

READ MORE: Six Spanish secrets on how to live to the age of one hundred

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Spain’s prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death

Spanish prosecutors said Tuesday they have filed a criminal complaint against a Madrid care home doctor and its director over the Covid-related death of a resident, in the first such case in the capital region since the start of the pandemic

Spain's prosecutors file criminal complaint over virus care home death
Photo: AFP

Madrid's public prosecutor's office said the two women are suspected of manslaughter and denial of medical attention in relation to the death in March of a woman in her 80s who had just moved into the home.   

Madrid was one of the hardest-hit cities in Europe by the first wave of the pandemic, and the complaint is expected to be one of several alleging inadequate care at retirement homes during the period.

In a statement, the prosecutor's office said the doctor and the director of the home, who were not named, did not follow the protocol set up by the Madrid regional government for caring for residents during the pandemic.

The doctor “disregarded” the protocol and did not call a hospital about the woman, despite her worsening condition, until eight days after she began having breathing trouble.

“Despite her rapid transfer to hospital, she died the following day from cardiac arrest,” the statement said.

The care home's director “was aware of the patient's clinical situation (but) did nothing” to ensure she received health care during periods when the doctor was absent, notably on the weekend before her death, it added.   

Amnesty International warned earlier this month that conditions at elderly care homes in the Madrid region and in Catalonia remained “alarming” despite improvements.

In a sharply worded report, it said the “vast majority” of residents had not been properly cared for during the pandemic.

The measures put in place by both regions were “inefficient and inadequate” and violated the residents' rights, it said.   

Spain has been one of Europe's worst-hit countries, with the virus infecting more than 1.7 million people and causing over 48,000 deaths.

Close to half of that number are believed to be elderly people who died in homes, Amnesty said.

At the height of the first wave in March, Spanish soldiers helping to fight the pandemic found elderly patients in retirement homes abandoned and, in some cases, dead in their beds.

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