What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World

This story additionally ran on USA Today. This story could be republished free of charge (details).

Imagine this state of affairs, maybe a yr or two sooner or later: An efficient COVID-19 vaccine is routinely out there and the world is transferring ahead. Life, nevertheless, will probably by no means be the identical — significantly for individuals over 60.

That is the conclusion of geriatric medical docs, growing older specialists, futurists and trade specialists. Experts say that within the aftermath of the pandemic, the whole lot will change, from the way in which older people obtain well being care to how they journey and store. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with each other.

“In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,” stated Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a assume tank on growing older world wide. “We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.”

Don’t Miss A Story

Subscribe to KHN’s free Weekly Edition publication.

Older adults are uniquely susceptible as a result of their immune techniques are likely to deteriorate with age, making it a lot tougher for them to battle not simply COVID-19 however all infectious ailments. They are additionally extra more likely to endure different well being circumstances, like coronary heart and respiratory ailments, that make it more durable to combat or get well from sickness. So it’s no shock that even sooner or later, when a COVID-19 vaccine is extensively out there — and extensively used — most seniors can be taking extra precautions.

“Before COVID-19, baby boomers” — these born after 1945 however earlier than 1965 — “felt reassured that with all the benefits of modern medicine, they could live for years and years,” stated Dr. Mehrdad Ayati, who teaches geriatric medication at Stanford University School of Medicine and advises the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging. “What we never calculated was that a pandemic could totally change the dialogue.”

It has. Here’s a preview of post-vaccine life for older Americans:

Medical Care

Time to be taught telemed. Only 62% of individuals over 75 use the web — and fewer than 28% are comfy with social media, based on knowledge from the Pew Research Center. “That’s lethal in the modern age of health care,” Dychtwald stated, so there can be a drumbeat to make them fluent customers of on-line well being care. 1 in three visits can be telemed. Dr. Ronan Factora, a geriatrician at Cleveland Clinic, stated he noticed no sufferers age 60 and up by way of telemedicine earlier than the pandemic. He predicted that by the point a COVID-19 vaccine is obtainable, a minimum of a 3rd of these visits can be digital. “It will become a significant part of my practice,” he stated. Older sufferers probably will see their docs extra typically than yearly for a checkup and profit from improved general well being care, he stated. Many docs as a substitute of only one. More common distant care can be bolstered by a staff of docs, stated Greg Poland, professor of drugs and infectious ailments on the Mayo Clinic. The staff mannequin “allows me to see more patients more efficiently,” he stated. “If everyone has to come to the office and wait for the nurse to bring them in from the waiting room, well, that’s an inherent drag on my productivity.” Drugstores will do extra vaccinations. To keep away from the germs in docs’ workplaces, older sufferers will want to go to drugstores for normal vaccinations comparable to flu photographs, Factora stated. Your plumbing can be your physician. In the not-too-distant future — maybe only a few years from now — older Americans can have particular units at residence to commonly analyze urine and fecal samples, Dychtwald stated, letting them keep away from the physician’s workplace.


Punch up the Google Maps. Many journeys of 800 miles or much less will probably turn into highway journeys as a substitute of flights, stated Ed Perkins, a syndicated journey columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Perkins, who’s 90, stated that’s actually what he plans to do — even after there’s a vaccine. Regional and native journey will substitute overseas journey. Dychtwald, who’s 70, stated he can be a lot much less inclined to journey overseas. For instance, he stated, onetime plans together with his spouse to go to India are actually unlikely, even when vaccine is obtainable, as a result of they need to keep away from massive concentrations of individuals. That stated, every year solely 25% of individuals 65 and up journey exterior the U.S. yearly, vs. 45% of the overall inhabitants, based on a survey by Visa. The hottest journey for seniors: visiting grandchildren. Demand for enterprise class will develop. When older vacationers (who’re financially ready) select to fly, they are going to extra incessantly e book roomy business-class seats as a result of they gained’t need to sit too near different passengers, Factora stated. Buying three seats for 2. Older couples who fly collectively — and have the cash — can pay for all three seats so nobody is between them, Perkins stated. Hotels will market medical care. Medical functionality can be constructed into extra journey choices, Dychtwald stated. For instance, some lodges will promote a health care provider on-site — or one shut by. “The era is over of being removed from health care and feeling comfortable,” he stated. Disinfecting can be a gross sales pitch. Expect a wealthy mixture of well being and security “theater” — significantly on cruises that host many older vacationers, Perkins stated: “Employees will be wandering around with disinfecting fogs and wiping everything 10 times.” Cruises would require proof of vaccination. Passengers — in addition to cruise workers — will probably need to show they’ve been vaccinated earlier than touring, Factora stated.


Local eateries will achieve belief. Neighborhood and small-market eating places will draw loyal prospects — primarily as a result of they know and belief the homeowners, stated Christopher Muller, a hospitality professor at Boston University. Safety can be a bragging level. To attraction to older diners particularly, eating places will prominently show safety-inspection signage and visibly sign their cleanliness requirements, Muller stated. They will even rent workers completely to wipe down tables, chairs and all high-touch factors — and these workers can be straightforward to establish and really seen.

Home Life

The homecoming. Because of so many COVID-19 deaths in nursing properties, extra seniors will go away assisted residing services and nursing properties to maneuver in with their households, Factora stated. “Families will generally move closer together,” he stated. The fortress. Home supply of virtually the whole lot will turn into the norm for older Americans, and in-person purchasing will turn into a lot much less widespread, Factora stated. Older staff will keep residence. The 60-and-up workforce more and more can be reluctant to work wherever however from residence and can be very sluggish to re-embrace grocery purchasing. “Instacart delivery will become the new normal for them,” Dychtwald stated.


Forced social distancing. Whenever or wherever massive households collect, individuals exhibiting COVID-like signs will not be welcomed underneath any circumstances, Ayati stated. Older people will disengage, at a value. Depression will skyrocket amongst older individuals who isolate from household get-togethers and enormous gatherings, Ayati stated. “As the older population pulls back from engaging in society, this is a very bad thing.” Public restrooms can be revamped. For germ avoidance, they’ll more and more get no-touch bogs, urinals, sinks and entrances/exits. “One of the most disastrous places you can go into is a public restroom,” Poland stated. “That’s about the riskiest place.”

Bruce Horovitz: [email protected]”>[email protected]

Related Topics Aging Pharmaceuticals Public Health

Most Popular

To Top