How COVID-19 will affect retirement and aging
November 15, 2020
The Wall Street Journal published a Journal Report titled Encore, and it included an article1 on how COVID will impact us all in retirement. Even if you’re not a retiree or close to it, it’s worth it to pay attention. As Kenny Chesney sings: “Don’t blink…a hundred years goes faster than you think.”
- Aging at home: Aside from the negative impression that still lingers after senior living centers were locked down during COVID and the elderly therein were unable to be visited by family members, there was also the disproportionate number of elderly who died from COVID while living there. That won’t be soon forgotten. Age segregation may not be a future goal for as many retirees. (Considering how many times we’ve written about the benefits of age-restricted housing, this has the potential to be transformative.)
- Technology boom: There is “a wave of innovation aimed at older adults.” One example; the growth of telemedicine. In addition, “wearable devices and diagnostic tests for home use will provide doctors with key information, including patients’ blood pressure and weight, and pave the way for better remote patient monitoring…” In addition, virtual travel is already in place for those who are unable to get up and go.
- Healthier lifestyles: “The pandemic is helping raise awareness of the concept of biological age, or the internal pace of aging.” Knowing that underlying health problems lead to higher death rates from the coronavirus (not to mention other severe consequences unrelated to COVID), more senior citizens are taking steps toward living a healthier lifestyle.
- A better handle on what to do with our time: Isolation and the inability to travel locally, domestically, and internationally, is causing many of us to reassess how we want to live our lives. “The virus has enhanced the feeling that life is short…What matters is finding meaning and doing what really matters to us…”
- We will plan for death: Regardless of age, but especially for the more vulnerable senior population, the pandemic has caused many of us to start discussing end-of-life care. “As difficult as it is to plan for death, experts say it is crucial that people prepare. It can improve not only how we live our last days, but how our loved ones deal with our deaths.”
- We need to save more to retire: The disruption in our economy due to COVID has caused interest rates to hover near zero. For decades, retirees have counted on income from CDs and bonds to help finance their retirement. In a low interest-rate environment that will probably stay with us for a while, retirees will have to learn to save more, work longer, or spend less. While most of us aren’t spending much now because we can’t go anywhere, getting back to ‘normal’ with minimal earned interest will be disruptive to many seniors.