Like everyone, I am hoping for changes for the better as we emerge from lockdown to a new normal. And if there is one change that I and around three-quarters of a million other over-70s must be hoping for, it's for a new vision of what it means to be older.
Waking up the economy and avoiding a resurgence of the virus are top priorities. But in the rush to get the country working again, there is a risk that those endlessly described as "the vulnerable elderly" get overlooked and that the view that all older people are an amorphous bunch of frail dependants becomes set in stone.
That view needs to be challenged. Current thinking about our ageing population is stuck in the past and is prejudicial to how older people live their lives. All too often, people in their later years are seen as a threat, described as a pensions time bomb and, as their numbers grow, as a grey nightmare.
So what needs to change? We could start by considering age biologically, rather than chronologically. People grow older very differently: there are lively 70-year-olds who could pass for 10 or 15 years younger and people the same age who sadly seem much older. Age may equate with stage as we grow up, since we are genetically programmed to develop from infancy to adulthood but we are not programmed to age in the same way.
We could stop thinking that people are over the hill at 66. There are high-profile individuals like Edna O'Brien writing and winning literary awards at 90 and Clint Eastwood, also 90, directing and producing films.
A flexible approach to retirement would make more sense for those who want and need to continue working. Such contracts are starting to be challenged, witness a recent case in which RTÉ paid €100,000 compensation for age discrimination to producer Anne Roper.
In future, as we live longer, working longer may be a necessity both in order to finance that longer life and due to the rapidly changing nature of work. When the old age pension was first introduced here by the British government in 1908 it was set at 70, when average life expectancy was in the mid-50s.
Currently the qualifying age for a pension is set at 66 and life expectancy is now 82, an increase of more than a quarter of a century compared with the 1908 level. And that longevity gain is advancing at around three years every decade. Around half of those born today can expect to live to be centenarians; if pensionable age remains at 66 they will spend 24 years - almost a quarter of their lives - in retirement. Why should they be sidelined rather than being seen as an asset with a wise contribution to make in both the formal and the voluntary sector? How about a grans and grandads army?
This longevity bonus might seem like a cause for celebration but instead, as the number of over-65s is set to double over the next 30 years to 1.5 million, it is greeted with gloomy headlines about the soaring coast of healthcare and pensions. It's a negative view of older people and one which doesn't take account of relevant facts.
One is that living longer doesn't mean being in poor health for longer as older people are living longer because they are healthy for longer. "In most countries the good news is that these extra years of life are healthy," say Andrew Scott and Lynda Gratton in their book 'The New Long Life'.
We need to take account of the rapidly changing nature of work and the way that robotics, AI, technological change and the shorter lives of companies will mean the end of the three-phase life, where education, work and then retirement were the usual pattern. Instead people will need a flexible approach with successive careers and training and reskilling at intervals throughout longer working lives. At present, older workers spend longer out of work than their younger counterparts and according to Solas, the training authority, are most at risk of losing their jobs.
Having an ageing population is actually a sign of a successful economy. As a country becomes wealthier there is a seesaw effect where the birth rate goes down and the age of the population climbs and the ratio between young and old tips.
It seems too that the longer you work (unless in a physically demanding job) the longer you live, according to a major study in the US where working until 70 reduced the risk of dying compared with those who retired at 65 by 44pc.
As physical strength is no longer required in more jobs, prejudice against older workers appears increasingly unfounded in the light of findings in neuroscience. These show the brain retains its plasticity and ability to learn and respond to challenge as we age. While fluid intelligence (the ability to think on one's feet) declines with age, crystalline intelligence (knowledge and wisdom) actually increases.
In the US those aged over 50 are more likely to be entrepreneurs than the under-30s. They are valuable as consumers too. A European Commission study estimated that the Silver Economy (over-50s spending) would be worth €57trn by 2025. And they could contribute more as part of the workforce as employment returns to normal. Consider that a quarter of economic growth during the 1990s was due to greater participation by women - the same could be true for older workers.
We want bold age, not old age.
Marianne Heron is a journalist, a retirement life coach and author of Irish Life's Rewire Don't Retire retirement guide