What we’ve learned over the past 12 months could pay off for years to come.
For the past year, our country has been mired in not one deep crisis but two: a pandemic and an economic meltdown. Interwoven in all this have been challenging issues for an year now and we are facing the second wave , which is more dangerous than the previous one. Dealing with all of this has dominated much of our energy, attention and, for many Indians, even our emotions.
Lesson 1: Family Matters More Than We Realized
“The indelible image of the older person living alone and having to struggle — we need to change that. You’re going to see more older people home-sharing within families and cohousing across communities to avoid future situations of tragedy.” Family may be the best medicine of all.
Lesson 2: We Have Unleashed a Revolution in Medicine
“One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned from COVID is that the scientific community working together can do some pretty amazing things.” “Breakthroughs” come after years of research. It may also target our biggest killers like cancer and also prepare us for future pandemics.
Lesson 3: Self Care Is Not Self-Indulgence
“Not only does self-care have positive outcomes for you, but it also sets an example to younger generations as something to establish and maintain for your entire life.” Why care about self-care? Pampering is vital to well-being — for yourself and for those around you. Activities that once felt indulgent became essential to our health and equilibrium, and that self-care mindset is likely to endure.
Lesson 4: Have a Stash Ready for the Next Crisis
“The need to augment our retirement savings system to help people put away emergency savings is crucial.” “Sometimes you think you don’t have the money to save, but if a little is put away for you each pay period, you don’t feel the pinch.
Lesson 5: The Adage ‘Age Is Just a Number’ Has New Meaning
“This isn’t just about the pandemic. Your health is directly related to lifestyle — nutrition, physical activity, a healthy weight and restorative sleep.” Live healthfully, live long. Exercise remains critical.
Lesson 6: We Befriended Technology, and There’s No Going Back
“Folks who have tried online banking will stay with it. It won’t mean they won’t go back to branches, but they might go back for a different purpose.” Of course, the world has long been going digital. But before the pandemic, standard operating procedure for most older people was to buy apples at the grocery, try the shoes on first before buying, have your doctor measure your blood pressure and see that hot new movie at the theater.
The tech boom wasn’t just video calls and streaming TV. Popular food delivery apps more than doubled their earnings last year.
Tech is for all. The tech adoption rate by older people is no surprise. We never believed the myth that older people lack such knowledge. “There’s a difference between knowing how to use something versus preferring to use it,”. “Sometimes we know how, but we prefer face-to-face interaction.” And now those preferences are shifting.
Lesson 7: Work Is Anywhere Now — a Shift That Bodes Well for Older Generations
“One of the major impacts of the new working-from-home focus is that more jobs are becoming non-location-specific.”
Necessity is the mother of reinvention: Forced to work remotely since the onset of the pandemic, millions of workers — and their managers — have learned they could be just as productive as they were at the office, thanks to videoconferencing, high-speed internet and other technologies. “This has opened a lot of corporate eyes.”
Face-lift your Face-Time. Yes, many workers are tied to a location: We will always need nurses, police, roofers, machine operators, farmers and countless other workers to show up. But if you are among the people who are now able to work remotely, you may be able to live in a less expensive area than where your employer is based — or work right away from the home you were planning to retire to later on.
Lesson 8: Our Trust in One Another Has Frayed, but It Can Be Slowly Restored
“Truth matters, but it requires messaging and patience.” Even before our views perforated along lines dotted by pandemic politics, race, class and whether Bill Gates is trying to save us or track us, we were losing faith in society. As life returns, look beyond your familiar pod. “Distrust breeds distrust, but hope isn’t lost for finding common ground, especially for older people.”
Perhaps most important, be open to changing conditions and viewpoints. “As we see vaccines and therapeutic drugs slowly gain widespread success in fighting this virus, I think we’ll start to overcome some of our siloed ways of thinking and find relief — together as one — that this public health menace is ending”. “We have to put our faith in other people to get through this together.”
Lesson 9: The Crowds Will Return, but We’ll Gather Carefully
“Masks and sanitizers will be part of the norm for years, the way airport and transportation security measures are still in place from 9/11.”
Don’t expect the same old: As the pandemic subsides, we’ll probably see more temperature-controlled outdoor event and dining spaces, more pedestrian and bicycling options, more city parks and more hybrid events that give you the option to attend virtually.
Retrain your brain. Psychologists say the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy can help people at any age regain the certainty and confidence they need to venture into the public space post-pandemic.
Lesson 10: Loneliness Hurts Health More Than We Thought
“What we’ve learned from COVID is that isolation is everyone’s problem. It doesn’t just happen to older adults; it happens to us all.” Isolation may be the new normal. Fifty-six percent of adults age 50-plus said they felt isolated in June 2020, double the number who felt lonely in 2018. Rates of psychological distress rose for all adults as the pandemic deepened — increasing six fold for young adults and quadrupling for those ages 30 to 54, according to a Johns Hopkins University survey published in JAMA in June. And it’s hard to tell whether the workplace culture many of us relied on for social support will fully return anytime soon.
Lesson 11: When Your World Gets Small, Nature Lets Us Live Large
“For older people in particular, nature provided a way to shake off the weight and hardships associated with stay-at-home orders, of social isolation and of the stress of being the most vulnerable population in the pandemic.”
One silver lining to COVID-19’s dark cloud: Clouds themselves became more familiar to all of us. So did birds, trees, bees, shooting stars and window gardens. By nearly every measure, the planet got more love during COVID. And wouldn’t it be nice if that continued going forward? The ins and outs on our new outdoor life. Above all, the environment is in your hands, so take action to protect it. “We’ve seen a lot of older folks stepping up their activity in trail conservation, stream cleaning, being forest guides and things like that this year, which indicates a shift in how that age group interacts with nature,”
Lesson 12: You Can Hope for Stability — but Best Be Prepared for the Opposite
“COVID-19, perhaps more than any other disaster, demonstrated that we need to continue ensuring response plans are flexible and scalable. You can’t predict exactly what a disaster will bring, but if you know what tools you have in your tool kit, you can pull out the right one you need when you need it.”
The pandemic was among the toughest slap-in-the-face moments in recent history to remind us that everything — everything — in our lives can change in a moment. Which is why the word of the year, and perhaps the coming century, is “resilience.” Not just at the individual level but at every social tier, from family to community to the nation as a whole.
Preparation must start at the top from Government
Being creative and even entrepreneurial helps
Focus on health care
Lesson 13: Wealth Inequality Is Growing, and It Affects Us All
“It’s outrageous that somebody could work full-time and not even be able to pay rent, let alone food and clothing. There’s a recognition that there’s a problem on both the left and right.”
Government economists estimate that unemployment rates in this pandemic are less than 5 percent for the highest earners but as high as 20 percent for the lowest-paid ones. “People at the bottom have disproportionately experienced the disease, and those at the bottom have lost jobs in enormous disproportion, too.” We have to be bold and courageous, to really build a society where race and other social demographic factors do not determine your ability to live a longer, healthier and more productive life.”
Lesson 14: The Benefits of Telemedicine Have Become Indisputable
“The processes we developed to avoid face-to-face care have transformed. If there was ever any truth to the stereotype of the older person whose life revolved around a constant calendar of in-person doctor appointments, it’s certainly been tossed out the window this past year due to the strains of the pandemic on our health care system.
Say goodbye to routine doctor visits. Now Bluetooth-enabled meters are used in abroad and here to transmit results via a smartphone app directly to their health records. “Remote monitoring allows us to recognize early when there should be adjustments to treatment”. We need to push for more access. The pandemic underlines the need for more home-based medical help with chronic conditions. Bottom line: The doctor is in (your house). Managing chronic health conditions like diabetes “can’t just be about getting in your car and driving to your doctor’s office. Taking care of your health conditions yourself is the path forward.
Lesson 15: Our Cities Won’t Ever Be the Same
“This is obviously a very big watershed moment in how we live, how we organize our cities and our communities. There are going to be long-lasting changes.” Now suddenly, from the start of Pandemic, crowds are the enemy, public buses and subways a health risk, packed office towers out of favor, and a roomy suburban home seems just where you want to be. The office and business district will look different. Many workers have little interest in returning to a 9-to-5 life. For those who do make the commute, they may find cubicles replaced with more flexible work spaces focused on common areas, with ample outdoor seating space for meetings and working lunches. And some now-empty offices will likely be converted into apartments and condos, making downtowns more vibrant. “Now you have an opportunity to remake a central business district into an actual neighborhood”.
Contributors to this report: Sari Harrar, David Hochman, Ronda Kaysen, Lexi Pandell, Jessica Ravitz and Ellen Star