2020 has been a definitive year for everyone and marked the page of a new chapter in each of our lives. It's inescapable. Schools operate remotely, businesses are fighting for survival, office space may never bustle again, the collegiate experience is altered and online socialization is becoming a norm. As we share & discuss all of these disruptions, the conversation generally revolves around the impacts on children/students and the workforce. Yet, we aren't talking much about The Silent Generation.
This is the generation born prior to the Boomers between 1926-1945. While the majority of this group is retired, their work ethic is central to their identity. This is the "nose to the grindstone" and "company man" group that were likely to have worked the full tenure of their career at one organization - polar opposite to our gig economy today! The Silent Generation believes in a firm handshake and looking someone in the eye. A personal relationship and trust are the bedrock to the financial advisors, bankers and lawyers that they've engaged. Further, this group is still outpacing every other generation with the exception of the Boomers when it comes to wealth - even though their savings or wealth accumulation days are behind them. This is not surprising given that long term savings plans and minimizing risk pair with the rest of their traits around money and spending.
So, now that we've painted a picture of who this group is and what they hold dear, let's now layer on the effects of COVID and sheltering in place.
The security of the grocery store is gone - with more fragile health, they feel risk in the simple task of getting food. To that end, they may have already been going out to restaurants a little more. I know my in laws were at their favorite restaurant at least 4 times a week pre-COVID. That's now either not an option or an activity veiled in risk.
Bank branches are closed or are limited in the types of transactions they'll accommodate in person. The silent generation have built their wealth and protected their assets with paper statements, live checks and mail in payments. Today, managing household cash flow and communicating with advisors has been put into the high gear of online management and mobile banking. Scary and not reliable to a group that previous to this year only had a 9% utilization rate on mobile banking according to the ABA. Relying on their traditional methods of communication and management are central to their work habits and pivoting from paper to smartphone is a non starter.
Telehealth. Where do we even start? As they should be, the silent generation is increasingly engaged in managing health events or chronic conditions. Again, the personal relationship with their healthcare providers is key to their peace of mind. The advent of telemedicine appointments and electronic health records/MyChart was just gaining steam with younger generations. For the technology adverse elderly American, this method is alien & flat out scary. "The main reasons adults are hesitant to use telemedicine involve worrying that the care will be lower quality (47%), their health information won’t be as safe or they will be bogged down by technical issues during the appointment (39%), or that they won’t have adequate privacy (31%)."1
So, it's easy to establish that the security and peace of mind of The Silent Generation has been upended this year and we haven't even really delved into the skyrocketing social isolation of 2020. The conversation around supports and protections is paramount & long overdue. Initiating the conversation with elderly clients, friends or family members is increasingly necessary. "..Calling for people to pitch in to close the divide. Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, urged people this month to help the elderly set up technology to talk to medical providers."
Specialized companions and services, such as a Certified Senior Advisor®, can be the all in one solution by providing qualified resources that will additionally support matters of household & money management, coordination of health care services, facilitate communications between other advisors or vendors while acting as "security guard" to promote health and financial wellness. This role is the advocate and "wing man" that should be afforded to all our seniors.