Impact on Older Workers
More people are choosing to stay in the workforce longer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the overall workforce will continue to grow through 2016, with the most dramatic increases being within the 66-74 and 75 and up age groups. According to the BLS, as the percentage of workers over 55 years increases, so does productivity. Unfortunately, workers 60 years and up are at higher risk of developing infections, including pneumonia, influenza and zoster (shingles).
Influenza and pneumonia kill thousands of individuals each year, but most are 65 years and over. In 2006, the highest pneumonia hospital discharge rate was documented in individuals over 65 years. Pneumonia is the most common complication in individuals suffering from influenza. Combined, they are the fifth leading cause of death in Americans over 65.
Zoster, or shingles, is an outbreak of blisters or rash caused by the same virus that causes chicken-pox. It can be painful and cause discomfort for older adults, who are at higher risk of developing shingles. About 32% of adults will develop shingles in their lifetime.
The persistent pain attributed to shingles costs employers approximately $4,917 (in 2004 dollars) over the first year. A shingles vaccine is available and the CDC recommends that individuals over 60 receive it. Researchers have found that giving older adults the vaccine reduces the incidence of the virus. Although some vaccinated individuals still develop shingles, there is a significant reduction in severity and complications associated with the virus.
Employees over 60 are at increased risk of developing infections so provide them with specific information on the importance of vaccines in preventing severe illnesses. Keeping some of your most productive employees healthy will help your company continue to grow and succeed.
The Family Safety & Health Employer
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