JOANNE RICHARD
Toronto Sun
May 19, 2021

Canadians of all ages are feeling the impacts of COVID catastrophe and older workers have been hit hard in the accompanying economic downturn.

According to AARP research, since the onset of COVID-19 workers 55 and older lost jobs sooner and were rehired slower. It typically takes them twice as long to find work again compared to their younger counterparts ages 35 to 54.

Employment plunges aren’t new to this demographic – a Statistics Canada study from 2011 found that in the last three recessions, a greater number of older Canadians with the greatest seniority were laid off compared to their younger counterparts.

“Older workers are likely to be more experienced, more costly and therefore at greater risk when there is an economic contraction and employers want to cut payroll costs,” says Dr. Michael Merzenich, renowned neuroscientist and leading pioneer in brain plasticity research.

“They may also be perceived as less tech-savvy and less able to adapt to working remotely – though that is often inaccurate, since these are workers with decades of good work habits,” says Merzenich, who is the brains behind brainhq.com, which boosts brain power through training memory, attention, intelligence and more.

Don’t let unemployment be career-ending. As vaccinations roll out and the economy bounces back, there’ll be new opportunities rolling out too. Rejoining the workforce will require uncovering hidden skills and abilities by getting proactively creative, and trying out new careers or retirement work, says Merzenich.

No matter your age, never underestimate your ability to meet challenges and evolve in changing times. “We are constructed to change. Brain plasticity – the ability of the brain to change chemically, structurally, and functionally throughout life – is our greatest human asset,” he says.

Challenges that require new skill acquisition and new learning invigorates your brain. “At any age, every brain is capable of very substantial change, in an improving and strengthening direction.”

Incredibly, the negative changes in the brain that contribute to functional and neurological decline are very substantially reversible – at any age.

“The likelihood that you will progress to ‘lose your marbles’ is substantially within your hands because the great majority of people have the capability to turn back the clock visa-vis their organic brain health and its functional powers.”