Discovery of 70-year-old’s remains years after she died prompts calls for better care for older people in Italy

Marinella Beretta, who had no living relatives, was found in her house in Prestino near Lake Como in northern Italy. Police stumbled upon her remains when they made a house call during high winds in Lombardy, which risked uprooting neglected trees in her garden.

She had not been seen by neighbours for at least two and a half years, according to Italian media reports.

“What happened to Marinella Beretta in Como, the forgotten loneliness, hurts our consciences,” the family minister, Elena Bonetti, said on Facebook. “We have a duty, as a community that wants to remain united, to remember her life … no one must be left alone.”

Nearly 40% of over-75-year-olds in Italy live alone, according to a 2018 report by the national statistics institute. The same number also said they had neither relatives nor friends to turn to in case of need.

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