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A matter of time Older Americans reflect on what the pandemic has taken from them

0 2 years ago

Every generation struggled in its own way during the pandemic. Children missed classrooms and birthday parties, college students lost out on campus life, young families labored without child care. But older Americans endured the pandemic with a keen awareness that they were losing more than their retirement plans: They were losing time.

Retirees and the elderly might be feeling as if “I know I don’t have that many years left,” said Jerrold Lee Shapiro, a professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University who has researched retirement. “The hourglass has been turned over. I know more years have passed than I will have in the future. I’m in my 60s or my 70s or whatever, and covid is taking those years away. I’m not going to use them.”

Experts say older people often fared better than their younger counterparts, displaying resilience born out of decades of life experience and wisdom. Many people pivoted, finding joy and meaning in simple activities: creating art, planting thousands of flowers or reading to a grandchild over Zoom. But a feeling still persists: the lingering sense that things weren’t supposed to be this way. As the world enters a third year of life with the coronavirus, we asked these people to reflect on what they’ve lost and gained in the past two years.

Ann and I planned our retirement carefully and well in advance. We worked very hard our whole lives, and retirement was going to be our time to finally do some of the things we never got a chance to do. We said that this was going to be our time.

We spent a couple of months planning an extensive trip around the country. We had a giant map of the United States glued to a board and stuck pins in all the places we were going to go. We probably had at least 30 or 40 pins. That trip was supposed to start in May 2020 and go for three months, and later in the year, we were going to go to Scotland. But then the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.


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