Aging is one inevitable. And, while everyone knows about this, few prepare properly for it. Even with the proper preparation, lacking a support network to help one navigate their sunset years can be the major difference between a good life and a hectic one.
In the office, elderly employees near or past their retirement make a valuable input to the growth and development of the firm. They, however, require more care then the rest of the workforce largely due to their advanced age.
To fully meet the needs of the aging part of the workforce, one has to understand exactly what challenges they face in their work and life in general. This is a guide on this issue with some solutions being offered for each challenge they face in relation to work.
Old Age Problems
Some of the most common old age problems include the following:
1. Health Problems
With age comes an increased rate of health issues. This can be due to many different reasons from a weakened immunity, genetic issues to physical causes such as accidents and injuries. Health issues such as cancer, heart disease, neuropsychological disorders, hearing and vision loss are quite common in old age.
These issues lead to a lot of changes at the work place and, without the firm putting in place the right structures, it’ll likely lose the input of the elderly workers. If they can’t access the office and work easily, they’re not likely to show up or work at their best.
The solution to some of the most common health issues include the following:
- Providing ramps for wheelchair use.
- Making all the important areas at work accessible by a wheelchair.
- Providing hearing aids to employees who need them.
- Availing glasses and other visual-assistance tools.
- Stair steady handles for climbing the stairways.
- Create wheelchair-accessible doorways and corridors.
- Setting aside parking areas for the elderly and the disabled.
- Construct washrooms accessible by the old and disabled.
- Have braille writings in lifts and similar areas.
- Providing help to their jobs so that they can complete tasks on time. For example, assigning assistants to help them goes a long way in making their work better.
- Educate them on the practices that will keep them healthier for longer such as exercising and proper diets.
- Getting the employees regular checkups and good health schemes.
These and many others can give the elderly part of the workforce a fair chance at being as productive as the rest of the workforce.
2. Social Isolation
Social isolation refers to the complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and the rest of society. As one ages, they’re likely to develop poor health and lose loved ones leading to depression and reduction in productivity in the office.
Chances are high that one’s place of work will have fewer older workers than the younger ones. in such a case, social isolation can occur as the elderly will be the minority. They have fewer things to relate to the youthful workforce.
The solutions to isolating the elderly at work include the following:
- Create social circles in which the elderly can interact with their coworkers frequently whether in person or online.
- Give them enough time to spend with their loved ones. This can be done by giving them off-days to catch up with their families and friends.
- Put in place programs that change their mindsets. These include sessions with psychiatrists to help them have a positive view of life.
- Making the workplace dynamic. This can be done by introducing exercising routines and other activities which aren’t necessarily work-related. These will build friendships and socializing opportunities for everyone.
- Help them be proactive. With depression, the best solution is usually doing something about it. For example, encouraging them to reach out to their support circles at work or elsewhere does a great job at helping them cope with isolation.
- Encourage them to try out new solutions to their issues. If one method doesn’t work for them, they should try others.
- Detox from the internet. Encouraging all employees to switch off the news for at least a day helps them stay away from always-negative nature of news and other online sources of information.
- Hold events to reward your employees. No matter their age, recognition always helps boost one’s moods and do away with their stress. They also feel that they belong to a circle.
- One other way of dealing with social isolation is to help other people. If the employees can enlist to help others achieve their goals, they’ll feel fulfilled.
These strategies apply to all employees even the young ones since social isolation isn’t limited to the elderly in society.
For the elderly, the most common type of prejudice they face is that of ageism. Ageism refers to discrimination based on one’s age. It can be faced by both the young and the elderly in a place of work. In most cases, however, the old ones are on the receiving end of this vice.
Among the aspects of ageism are discrimination based on them having poor health, physical and mental abilities. This can often lead to denying them their rightful tasks at work. A job can be given to a younger person based on the erroneous assumption that an older colleague may not manage it.
As noted by Joanna Lahey of the Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Services, firms are 40% more likely to hire a young person than an older one even when the task isn’t age-dependent.
The solutions to this type of prejudice include the following:
- The firm should actively monitor the workplace for prejudices against the old to eliminate them early.
- Watch for social cues and eliminate them early. For example, jokes aimed at the elderly may instead encourage ageism leading to its further growth in the workplace.
- Create and implement mentorship programs to ensure that the input of the older employees is also appreciated by the younger ones.
- Offer equal training and promotional opportunities to all employees no matter their age. This helps level the field and even gives some older employees an advantage over the younger ones owing to the formers’ experience.
- Encourage employees to speak out about ageism and other forms of discrimination.
- Hire a diverse workplace focused on abilities rather than age. This requires careful description of a job to avoid misinterpretations based on some prejudices.
- Design a good retirement plan for everyone. No one should be forced to retire just because they’ve attained a certain age given that work capabilities can vary between individuals. If one is still capable and they’ve reached a certain age, they should be allowed to continue working.
These are some of the pointers to look out for when aiming to eliminate prejudice at work and to the elderly especially.
4. Poor Financial Wellness
With age, financial needs increase but the capacity to generate and keep money diminishes. Older people will find it harder to make money and keep it safe from scammers and others aimed at stealing it from them. They also suffer from a lack of opportunities in that they can’t get job opportunities to generate wealth for their wellbeing.
The solutions to poor financial wellness among the elderly employees include the following:
- Offering them job opportunities to generate wealth. Equal opportunities based on merit are the solution to this issue.
- Training them on how to protect themselves against scammers and other fraudsters.
These steps will keep the elderly employees financially stable.
Keeping in mind these challenges and solutions, it goes without saying that the solutions give the elderly members of the workforce a fair chance at making contributions to the firm at various levels. The firm can easily leverage on their experience and expertise to grow and become a better institution.