Experts say that in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, everything will change for older Americans, from the way they receive healthcare to how they travel and shop. This also includes their work life and relationships with one another.
Older adults are uniquely vulnerable because their immune systems tend to deteriorate with age, making it so much harder for them to battle not just COVID-19 but all infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases, that make it tougher to fight or recover from illness. Even with a potential vaccine, most seniors will be taking additional precautions.
Here’s a preview of post-vaccine life for older Americans:
- One in three visits will be telemedicine.
- More regular remote care will be bolstered by a team of doctors to see more patients more efficiently.
- Drugstores will do more vaccinations to avoid the germs in doctors’ offices.
- Older Americans may have special devices at home to regularly analyze urine and fecal samples.
- Many trips of 800 miles or less will likely become road trips instead of flights.
- Regional and local travel will replace foreign travel. The most popular trip for seniors: visiting grandchildren.
- Demand for business class will grow. When older travelers (who are financially able) choose to fly, they will more frequently book roomy business-class seats because they won’t want to sit too close to other passengers.
- Older couples who fly together, and have the money, will pay for all three seats, so no one is between them.
- Hotels will market medical care. Medical capability will be built into more travel options. For example, some hotels will advertise a doctor on-site or one close by.
- Disinfecting will be a sales pitch. Expect a rich combination of health and safety “theater,” particularly on cruises that host many older travelers. Employees will be wiping everything frequently.
- Cruises will require proof of vaccination. Passengers as well as cruise employees will likely have to prove they’ve been vaccinated before traveling.
- Local eateries will gain trust. Neighborhood and small-market restaurants will draw loyal customers because patrons know and trust the owners.
- To appeal to older diners, restaurants will prominently display safety-inspection signage and visibly signal their cleanliness standards. They will hire employees exclusively to wipe down tables, chairs and all high-touch points. These employees will be easy to identify and very visible.
- More seniors will leave assisted living facilities and nursing homes to move in with their families.
- Home delivery of almost everything will become the norm for older Americans, and in-person shopping will become much less common.
- Older workers will stay home. The 60-and-up workforce increasingly will be reluctant to work anywhere but from home and will be very slow to re-embrace in-person grocery shopping.
- There will be forced social distancing. Whenever or wherever large families gather, people exhibiting COVID-like symptoms may not be welcomed under any circumstances.
- Older folks will disengage, at a cost. Depression will skyrocket among older people who isolate from family get-togethers and large gatherings.
- Public restrooms will be revamped. For germ avoidance, they’ll increasingly get no-touch toilets, urinals, sinks and entrances/exits.
–Adapted from “What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World,” Kaiser Health News