What happened? Part of the reason is the coronavirus pandemic, a disruption that has left seniors uniquely vulnerable, and isolated and without any clear plan to bring them back safely into society.

But to Nora Super, the senior director of the Milken Institute’s Center for the Future of Aging, it goes well beyond that.

“Covid set us back, unfortunately, on some of the negative stereotypes about aging,” says Super. “We’ve seen the pervasive ageism in our society, and that has energized older people to say, ‘Hey, I’m not dead yet.’”

In her research, including a stint as executive director of the White House Conference on Aging, Super has found that it’s not just the way we thing of aging that is changing, it’s seniors themselves. There are real cultural shifts in the over-65 age bracket that are likely to outlast the concerns about the virus, and keep reshaping U.S. electorate.