The pandemic has left people from all walks of life perplexed regardless of their age and financial position across the globe. The anxiety brought about by this uncertainty is immense. The pandemic induced lockdowns and practice of new social norms are ingested to revive the economy, but with it comes salary-cuts and job-cuts as well. Almost all ventures are facing a crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic. As a first step towards controlling the situation, downsizing seems the only way out.
The havoc caused by the pandemic has not just disturbed the careers of millennials but also of older professionals. While the youth struggle to get a new job or pay off EMIs, older professionals have an additional burden of maintaining healthcare expenses and contributing to their retirement funds.
A recent survey of 5000 people by HelpAge India says that 65% of the people in the age group 60 – 80 have lost their livelihood during the lockdown. Among these, 61% belonged to rural areas, and 39% in urban India. In India, the elderly population is not considered as a working-class. They are facing a threefold struggle in the current situation of high health risk, loss of income, and social isolation.
Switching to new careers is an option for millennials but the same may not be always possible for those over 55 years of age, although they may possess deep experience and years of service. “There are jobs in the market but employers want younger people who are willing to work for a lesser salary. But employers often don’t realize that older people bring forth a unique experience, a helpful attitude, and knowledge acquired from years of work” says Saurav Das, co-founder of Zetta Women, a professional and social platform that helps women and people from the queer community to find jobs. He has lately extended services to older professionals as well. Losing a job and sudden unemployment influences mental health, which can have a snowballing effect on physical health as well. “Imagine the toll of losing your job when you were about to retire. All this stress at a time of crisis can affect those who have pre-existing health conditions,” says HelpAge.
HelpAge asserts that the government has to step in and says, “The government should provide some sort of financial assistance, besides the pension scheme. The government needs to acknowledge the elderly as having value, only then can the healing start.”