Employment and Security Issues
The HR expert said many companies are finding that it is cheaper to keep their senior workers around, rather than try to train new employees, defeating another long-held hiring notion. As a result, many more businesses are launching "employee engagement" programs aimed squarely at keeping older workers on board. By taking lifestyle issues into account and creating more flexible working conditions, companies will have even more success in holding onto their employees, Stoltz-Loike said.For its part, Washington-based AARP is working to understand how it can adapt its online tools, which revolve around its "Older Wider Wired" site, to better serve the needs of seniors in the future.Mark Carpenter, general manager of Web strategy and services for AARP, detailed the organizations Web 2011 project that aims to anticipate the online needs of U.S. citizens in six years time, at which point the first generation of Baby Boomers will turn 65. "The Web wont be just an option in 2011, it will be the leading way in which people communicate with us," Carpenter said. "The Internet offers AARP an extremely effective channel; were building toward the level of trust, security and control that the Baby Boomers will need, as theyre a more tech-savvy group of people." Carpenters nod toward privacy and security underlined some of the perspectives offered by Dr. Michael D. Cantor, an expert in geriatric medicine who is also a lawyer. Cantor highlighted the growing protection of health care information offered by the federal governments HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) of 1996, but pointed out that even that legislation has some dangerous potential. For instance, Cantor said, HIPAA allows companies such as health care providers to share patients information with drug makers. In addition to the growing number of places where peoples medical records are being stored and distributed, which he identified as a growing identity theft threat, Cantor detailed the need for privacy regulations for the emerging monitoring systems being developed for use in older peoples homes. While the systems could represent a significant leap forward in aiding sick people or seniors with mental health issues, he warned that individuals must be given the option to turn the technologies off and should tightly control those organizations who may be watching their daily activities. "We dont know how much of a factor privacy is, or will be, to adoption of this new technology by older people," Cantor said. "We need more ability to limit just who can access this personal information, and know that only the people we want can see it, or who exactly in the health care system gets to look at. Those are the only ways we can promise to protect peoples privacy." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.