In Slate’s Better Life Lab, Ally Day, an assistant professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo wrote “Our Aging Population Needs Workplace Adjustments. We Have to Find a Way to Provide Them.”
In the article examples illustrate how employees’ plans for working later in life are becoming burdensome to some companies as health needs increase. With worker changes in diminished memory, mobility and other impairments, the organizations are simply not equipped to accommodate the unique needs of an older workforce.
Over 40% of workers over 65 are not financially prepared for retirement. Many will continue working into their 70s. The numbers are big, too. By 2030 nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be over 65, this has been coined the “silver tsunami.”
“A 2016 retirement confidence survey cites several reasons for this: a poor economy, inadequate finances, and needing to pay for skyrocketing health care costs. According to this survey, 46 percent of retirees left the workforce before they planned to, with 55 percent of that number leaving because of a disability or health problem.”
Michael Stein, visiting professor at Harvard Law School, published an article in the University of Chicago Law Review, arguing that retaining older workers’ capabilities is in everyone’s interest. Some predict that Social Security will run out of money to accommodate the longer lives and growing number of recipients. Pensions are now rare and many have lost their savings or homes in the financial collapse of the last decade.
Stein believes workplaces will become more adaptive and thereby more productive.
The article concludes:
There are indeed ways in which older workers contribute invaluably to the workplace—their institutional memory and long-term commitment being just two examples. But in the absence of any effective way to require companies to accommodate their employees, these aging workers are at the mercy of the market.
Link to the full article: Our Aging Population Needs Workplace Adjustments. We Have to Find a Way to Provide Them.
Slate’s Better Life Lab
Ally Day is assistant professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo. She co-edits Disability Studies Quarterly and is finishing her book, Stigmatizing Narrative: Medicine, Memoir and the Social Contract.
Photo illustration by Slate Photos by iStock