Older Manufacturing Workers and Adaptation to Age-Related Changes

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE.

The purpose of this study was to understand the age-related changes, adaptations, and contexts that support older workers in the manufacturing sector.

METHOD.

In a multiple-case study, 10 older workers from two manufacturing companies completed the Job Content Questionnaire, Health and Productivity Questionnaire, and semistructured interviews and underwent task observations for 8 hr over 4 mo.

RESULTS.

Age-related changes affecting job tasks included near vision, upper extremity strength, grip strength, joint stiffness, and endurance. Older workers adapted job tasks by changing their work style, using equipment available, and relying on close coworkers for assistance. They adapted their personal lifestyle to maintain the energy necessary to meet job demands. Organizational contexts that supported older workers highlighted job control, social support, and mutual respect.

CONCLUSION.

This study suggests that occupational therapy practitioners can provide individualized adaptations, environmental modifications, and health promotion strategies to help older workers meet job demands while balancing work and home occupations.

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