Amid the fear and panic caused by the current coronavirus pandemic, it may be impossible to think of any silver lining in relation to COVID-19. But the old adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ could lead to a silver lining for retirees in the midst of this crisis.
Enforced isolation may encourage older generations to adopt online tools and modern methods of communication, co-founder and director of aged care support provider Aged Care Steps, Assyat David told Professional Planner.
Many older people who were reluctant to embrace technology may no longer have any choice, if they want to stay connected to friends and family and even health professionals and financial advisers in the days of self-isolation and social distancing.
“There will be a silver lining and a legacy as [more] older people learn how to use online tools,” said Ms David.
The other silver lining, says Ms David, is that the pandemic could kickstart people to plan ahead more thoroughly for future crises.
“We’ve had the bushfire crisis, water restrictions and now this, so perhaps in the future people will think more about what it means for mum and dad when there is a crisis and how you can prepare if people are isolated,” she explains.
And, as the crisis is estimated to be with us indefinitely, mental health and loneliness also needs to be better addressed, says Ms David.
“The whole isolation issue is starting to pick up, it’s only been a couple of weeks but if it stretches to months the outcomes of being stranded as an elderly person will become important,” she said.
Financial adviser Richard Jackson says the older generation isn’t afraid to use technology.
“People in the 70s and 80s are pretty comfortable with email already, they’re on the internet more than you might think,” he says.
Still, Mr Jackson, who specialises in retiree and aged care clients, is encouraged by the number of older people adapting to the use of online tools.
“I’ve already started doing that with a few people and they seem quite happy with the outcome,” he says.
He agrees, however, that the current crisis could spur the older generation on to try more tools and applications than they might have previously been comfortable with.
“It’s a more of an incremental thing, they like to take things step by step,” he says.
“But any development would be a good outcome.”
What other silver linings from the pandemic do you foresee?
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