Addressing the Health Needs of Older Workers: As the Workforce Ages, EAPs Will Begin to Confront Physical and Mental Health Issues Different from Those of Younger Workers
DiGilio, Deborah, The Journal of Employee Assistance
In the United States and in most developed countries across the globe, the population is aging. People 65 years of age and older are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, and 78 million "baby boomers" (more than one of every four Americans) are right behind them. In 2006, nearly 8,000 boomers turned 60 each day (U.S. Census Bureau 2006).
Although senior adults have old age in common, they are becoming increasingly diverse with respect to ethnicity, gender, country of origin, health status, sexual orientation, educational background, financial resources, and family structure. They are also changing the composition of the workforce. It is projected that by 2012, workers aged 55 and older will comprise 19.1 percent of the labor force, up from 14.3 percent in 2002. This is a reversal of the pattern of decline in the share of workers aged 55 and older in the workforce that persisted through the 1980s (Toossi 2004).
Moreover, many boomers expect to continue working after they reach retirement age. A survey conducted by the investment firm Merrill Lynch showed that nearly 80 percent of boomers intend to keep working beyond age 65. About one-quarter are expecting to work because they need the money, but about half will continue to work to avoid boredom, to give back to the community, and to finance leisure pursuits (Merrill Lynch 2005).
HEALTH CARE CONCERNS
One issue on the mind of many aging workers--an issue that may complicate future work plans--is health care. The Merrill Lynch survey found that the unpredictable cost of illness and health care is the boomers' biggest fear. In fact, three times as many boomers were worried about a major illness (48 percent), their ability to pay for health care (53 percent), and ending up in a nursing home (48 percent) than about dying (17 percent).
These concerns are not without merit. The per capita health care expenditures of baby boomers are more than twice those of younger adults (Commonwealth Fund 2006). In 2004, people aged 45 to 54 spent an average of $2,695 on health care, while those 55 …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Addressing the Health Needs of Older Workers: As the Workforce Ages, EAPs Will Begin to Confront Physical and Mental Health Issues Different from Those of Younger Workers. Contributors: DiGilio, Deborah - Author. Magazine title: The Journal of Employee Assistance. Volume: 38. Issue: 3 Publication date: July 2008. Page number: 22+. © 2009 Employee Assistance Professionals. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.