26 AUGUST 2016 Claims Magazine PropertyCasualty360.com
fic Safety Administration, people 65 and
older comprise 17 percent of all traffic
fatalities in the United States.
Longer lives, chronic diseases
Chronic diseases, which worsen over
time, also can present other setbacks. The
risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes
increase significantly as we age. In many
cases, that can mean higher health care
bills. Medical costs for people with diabe-
tes, for instance, are double the amount
when compared with those for people
without diabetes, according to the Amer-
ican Diabetes Association.
Health issues and old age can also lead
to bigger waistlines. For baby boomers, a
U.S. Census Bureau report found that the
majority — 72 percent of men and 67 per-
cent of women — are either overweight or
obese. Excess weight can lead to a higher
risk for other conditions such as type 2
diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, vas-
cular disease, kidney disease and arthritis.
Obesity also can limit mobility and day-to-
day activities, restricting a person’s physi-
cal abilities at work. These co-morbidities
also affect recovery times and can impede
vascular, soft tissue and bone recovery.
And, while fewer older workers choose
to light up a cigarette compared to their
younger colleagues, those who do smoke
face a higher risk of related health issues
such as cardiovascular and respiratory
diseases, dementia, osteoporosis and senile macular degeneration, according to
the Census report.
New economic challenges
Those health challenges place new economic pressures on employers. When it
comes to Workers’ Compensation and
other insurance claims, employees must
overhaul established practices to better
manage the needs of older workers. One-size-fits-all programs no longer work.
Employers must have plans and strategies in place for hiring aging workers;
developing effective wellness programs;
and better managing injuries or illnesses.
More than ever before, preventive and
wellness programs can impact payout
dollars and loss time.
Many employers are just beginning to
respond. In a survey of the Society for
Human Resource Management, 36 percent of respondents said their organization was beginning to examine policies
and practices to handle the aging workforce. Another 19 percent said they’d just
become aware of the potential need to
Aging workers are wonderful assets
to the workplaces. With modifications,
increased focus and awareness, and new
management practices, employers can
ensure that they continue to play valuable
roles for as long as they wish.
Kari Williamson, BS, RN, LNCC, CCM
( firstname.lastname@example.org) is the
president of MKC Medical Management,
and works with attorneys, insurance
examiners and others within the medical-legal-insurance space to better manage
and understand claim issues.
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