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Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers
SF-36, an instrument summarizing several dimensions of health-related quality of life.
One of the consequences of sleep disturbances is dependence on prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) sleep medications. It was found that older adults and females use greater amounts of sleep medication in order to manage their sleep problems (Ohayon, Caulet, and Lemoine, 1996; Pillitteri et al., 1994; Mullan, Katona, and Bellew, 1994). Individuals who do not seek formal care for sleep problems tend to overmedicate their condition using OTC drugs.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
In recent years, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has become increasingly recognized as a common clinical problem (Sharpe et al., 1997). The causes of CSF are unknown, but there are many variables that appear to predispose individuals to develop CFS, including various lifestyle behaviors, personality traits, and work stress. Also, CFS may make individuals more susceptible to illnesses or disorders such as viral infection and worsen existing illnesses or disorders such as sleep problems and depression. Older individuals with a declining general health may be more susceptible to developing CFS. The relationship between CFS and work factors such as workload and hours and job-related stress, as well as home stress, should be investigated further for older workers.
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
It is reported that 70 percent of current illegal drug users are employed, and approximately 7 percent of Americans employed in full-time work report heavy drinking (Roberts and Fallon, 2001). Individuals who use alcohol or other drugs in the workplace are estimated to cost business $81 billion annually in lost productivity; 86 percent of these costs are attributed to alcohol use. Ruchlin (1997) used the 1990 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention supplement to the National Health Interview Survey to determine prevalence data on alcohol use among older adults. Close to half of the sample reported having consumed alcohol during the survey year. According to Rigler (2000), one-third of older alcoholic individuals developed problem drinking in later life, while the remainder grew older sustaining the medical and psychosocial consequences of early-onset alcoholism. However, the prevalence of problem drinking and alcoholism among older workers is not known. The reported prevalence of alcohol problems among older adults in the general population ranges from 1 to 22 percent. In all age groups, the rates are lower in women than in men. In any case, the consequences of alcohol abuse are known to be more serious among the