Like the general population, the US workforce is aging—a trend that is posing challenges for workplace health and safety. At the Safety 2015 conference, the session “The Silver Tsunami, Are You Ready for the Shifting Age Paradigm?” emphasized that our aging workforce is a serious issue that will affect many companies. “We have older people doing jobs that probably older people shouldn’t be doing,” said Scott B. Lassila, vice president of Aon Global Risk Consulting.

Age can affect many physical conditions, such as vision, flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. Additionally, the risk of cancer, obesity, arthritis, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease increases with age. As a result, older workers have higher rates of absenteeism and longer recovery times when injured.

In the coming decades, keeping aging workers healthy will be vitally important to growing and starting businesses, and ensuring the strength of the overall economy. When workers stay safe and healthy, businesses have reduced insurance premiums and workers’ compensation costs, as well as fewer workdays lost to illness or injury. As a business strategy for maintaining the health and productivity of all workers, “Wellness programs work,” said Lassila, who highly recommends that human resources managers investigate and implement these programs.

Pharmacists are also having a positive impact on the health of our aging population. No matter what setting pharmacists work in, they interact with patients who are experiencing the effects of aging. In addition to providing older patients with essential medications and monitoring their adherence, pharmacists can empower patients with information and offer other health care options so that patients can choose the best course for their health.

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