There has never been a better time than now to be an entrepreneur, according to Ken Dychtwald, founder and CEO of Age Wave, a research and educational organization with expertise in aging.

Because of the coronavirus, in some ways “society has been broken, and we can decide what we want to put back into it,” Dychtwald said during a webinar yesterday. “This is a time for small businesses to innovate. For instance, we will be seeing enormous innovations in education, both in the social aspects, as well as the learning aspects.”

“This is a time for dreaming, not for doomsaying,” he added in the webinar, which was sponsored by the American Society on Aging. In addition to looking for new financial and health opportunities to emerge out of the current health crisis, “we should be promoting aging as a positive thing, not a negative,” he added.

Surprisingly, retirees seem to be the least panicked about the coronavirus and the physical, social and economic problems it is creating, Dychtwald said, although some older people feel very vulnerable, in part because so many of them are alone.

“People age 50 to 64 are getting the wind knocked out of them right now” economically and socially, he said. “They wanted to work longer” and are losing jobs and money. “Those in their 30s and 40s are freaking out right now because they are trying to pay off student debt, and they are worried about their parents.”

Differences exist between the generations in their reactions and “people need a level of empathy they have never had before, he said. They need to think what it is like for others,” Dychtwald added. At times like this, and for the future when the world comes out of the pandemic crisis, “older people need to share their perspective and young people need to teach the elder population how to be curious about the internet and to be less rigid,” he said.

Society can come out of the current crisis better than it went in, Dychtwald added. For years leaders have been enmeshed in their particular fiefdoms – economists are separate from sociologists and health service specialists are separate from housing experts, he said. “That has to change. We have been an aging society for half a century and yet we are not prepared.”