People over sixty-five have been singled out as a uniquely vulnerable risk group for the novel coronavirus. Yet the discourse of risk obscures (and exacerbates) socially created dangers of congregate care in the United States: poorly paid workers holding down multiple jobs and the endemic “plagues” of loneliness, boredom, and hopelessness. Humorous memes about who counts as old point out structural inequalities, while millions of able-bodied “shut-ins” (due to lockdowns and job losses) may experience forced empathy: fuel for new imaginings about how to care for—and value—elders moving forward.

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