As vaccines and booster shots continue rolling out, the community is readjusting to a new post-pandemic life. Working entirely from home, engaging with others digitally more often than in person, and navigating supportive community resources while still staying socially distant are all among some of the new facets of daily life. Sometimes they present new opportunities, while other times they create new obstacles for barriers. After the last two years of these global major shifts, it seems likely that many of these changes will remain as part of the “new normal.” Recognizing the significant impact on older adults and adults with disabilities is essential to ensuring we are doing all we can to prevent anyone from being left behind.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the corporate world to shift into partial or full remote work environments. This shift was an adjustment for all, and in some cases, it made work more accessible for adults who might have been struggling to find balance with other outside responsibilities. However, for many working older adults, a transition to digital workspaces presents additional challenges. Adapting to technologies that remote work demands are an obstacle for many older adults. Combine that with the need for reliable internet access at home, it becomes apparent that older adults might find themselves ill-equipped to keep up professionally.
Seattle is already notorious for its high housing costs, and the pandemic did not slow that down. The market saw homebuyers offering tens of thousands of dollars over asking prices and engaging in heated bidding wars. While 2020 saw a decline in rental rates for apartments, those rates have since started climbing again and are expected to continue. Affordable apartments are few and far between across King County, and this puts many older adults at risk of being unable to obtain or maintain stable housing.
While we have been excited to emerge from the long-term isolation and reform strong community connections, it is also more important now than ever to recognize how the lasting effects of adjusting to the pandemic might create more challenges for older adults and adults with disabilities. Help us ensure stability for our aging neighbors.