The Aging Population: A Growing Factor for Success

Every day, pharmacists see evidence that America’s population is aging. No matter what setting you work in, you interact with patients who are experiencing the effects of getting older.

Keeping aging workers healthy will be vitally important in the coming decades: it is estimated that 24% of the US labor force will be 55 years or older by 2018. A healthy workforce can help contribute to the financial well-being of businesses and the economy as a whole. When workers stay safe and healthy, businesses have reduced insurance premiums and workers’ compensation costs, increased productivity, and fewer workdays lost to illness or injury.

In a recent study (published online November 6, 2014, in Population Health Management), researchers assessed the associations between 11 modifiable health risks and workplace absenteeism and presenteeism, and estimated lost productivity costs. From 2007 to 2010, 17,089 employees from a large US computer manufacturer completed at least 1 health risk assessment. The analysis was stratified by age: younger than 45 years versus 45 years or older. For all ages, poor emotional health, inadequate exercise, tobacco use, and having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 were consistently associated with absenteeism and presenteeism. Having a BMI greater than 35 and poor emotional health were associated with the largest effect on absenteeism and presenteeism, respectively. Hypertension, blood sugar level, inadequate exercise, and alcohol were associated with greater absenteeism among older, but not younger, workers. “These findings could help prioritize preventive health programs offered by employers,” wrote the researchers. “Given the aging of the US workforce, keeping older workers healthy and productive will be crucial to remaining competitive in the global economy.”

Companies have an opportunity to develop targeted ways to keep skilled older employees healthy and productive. Pharmacists can offer essential ingredients for success, including empowering patients with information and offering them health care options, because individuals, not big government programs, can make the best decisions regarding their health.

The information in this month’s Aging Population issue and on www.PharmacyTimes.com can help you continue to provide the best possible care to seniors every day and thereby improve our nation’s health and productivity. Please enjoy the age-related articles in this issue, including “Alzheimer’s Disease,” “Living with Osteoarthritis,” “Using Lifestyle Drugs to Erase Time,” and “Rhinovirus in the Elderly.”

The Pharmacy Times family wishes you and yours a healthy, prosperous New Year.

Thank you for reading!

Mike Hennessy

Chairman and CEO