We have all heard the term “life span” before, but are you familiar with health span? While life span refers to how long a person lives, health span refers to the part of a person’s life in which they are in good health. People are living much longer than in the past. In 2021, the average life expectancy was 78.99 years. Now that people are living longer, more aging adults are working longer as well, be it for pleasure, mental stimulation, or financial stability.
Aging adults in the workforce
While most adults live about 19.6 years past age 65, typically only 6 of those years are considered to be in good health. This is referred to as the health span gap. Employers are left with a conundrum. Some employers worry when their workforce ages, their productivity will wane. On the other hand, older adults have advanced knowledge, having worked for so long. Their company-specific skills are not easily passed on to new employees.
Ideally, employers should strive to increase their employee’s health span. Studies confirm that a multigenerational workforce is a strong one. A workforce that supports older adults is one that does not subscribe to ageism and accommodates different workplace habits and health needs.
Ways to accommodate older adults in your workplace
- Expand to a more inclusive hiring process
- Have flexible work hours
- Include phased-retirement programs
- Provide skills training
- Adapt old positions or create new ones
Risk factors that affect health span
As people get older, it becomes increasingly important to make informed health decisions. Multiple lifestyle risk factors to keep an eye on are tobacco use, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, poor diet, and obesity. Each of these factors can negatively affect your health span. Unchecked mental health struggles like stress, depression, and loneliness can affect it as well. While those risk factors can negatively impact your health span, there are ways to improve it.
Ways you can improve health span
Ideally, one’s health span would equate to their life span. To try and bridge the health span gap, it is important to actively take steps to maintain your health. You can schedule and attend all necessary doctors’ appointments and take proper medication, when necessary. You can also remain physically active and diet conscious. Maintaining health isn’t always easy but identifying one area of change and working actively to achieve it can make a big difference. Working towards healthy habits won’t solve all your health problems, but it will help your chances at bridging the health span gap.