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Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers
by age. Those 65 or older, however, did have lower prevalence of work-related back pain due to repeated activities (Wagener et al., 1997). Job change, altered job activities, or ceasing work due to back pain, regardless of cause, occurred among approximately 20 percent of both women and men. Women were more likely to change jobs or stop working after age 65.
Combining HRS and NHIS data suggests, then, that the majority of Americans 51–65 years in 1998 were still working, although sometimes at a second career. A substantial proportion were continuing to work after conventional retirement ages of 60–65 years. Women were less likely to be working than men, but this may change in subsequent cohorts. Jobs among workers over age 50 were reported to contain many physical and emotional challenges and stresses, but most workers reported that they enjoyed going to work. As expected, older workers as a group were healthier and more functional than their nonworking counterparts, but a majority reported at least one chronic illness or disorder, suggesting that these conditions in general did not substantially interfere with job functions, but they did point to a higher risk of future illness or disorder and disability. About 15 percent of workers reported their health status as being fair or poor, possibly leading to risk of job loss and progression of illness or disorder. About 16 percent of workers 51–65 years reported that they did not have health insurance of any type; over 80 percent were receiving such insurance from their employers. This has implications for access to health services in this age group.