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Age may bring wisdom, but it’s no bed of roses

Monday, January 19, 2015

The millennials may be the largest generation right now, but there are still plenty of baby boomers in the workplace. Boomers have just started to reach retirement age, after all. More and more and more will follow.

We don’t want to talk about retirement, though. We want to talk about aging. And we want to throw in a reference here and there to the great recession and the financial crisis. Here goes.

For the most part, we can all expect that our vision will get worse as we age. The decline goes beyond reaching for the readers every time you pick up the TV guide. Night vision deteriorates over time, for example. That’s one reason a number of states — notably, New York is not among them — require older drivers to have more frequent vision tests.

Motor coordination also declines. Thinking about driving again, you may notice older people’s reaction times are slower. They may know what to do, but the information takes longer to travel from brain to brake foot. How many stories have you heard about older drivers mistaking the gas pedal for the brake? They may realize their mistake right away, but can’t move quickly enough to avoid hitting the parking barrier or plowing into the car ahead of them.

There is also a chance, of course, that they have no idea what they forget, even for a moment, where the brake pedal is. Cognitive function declines as we age, too, and you don’t have to have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to suffer the occasional “senior moment.” The normal aging process can mean that you have trouble following a conversation, or you can’t remember how to do something that you have done every day of your adult life. You look all over the house for your keys before you realize they’re in your hand.

What does any of this have to do with workers’ compensation? We’ll explain in our next post.

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association, “Mature Driver Laws,” January 2015

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