Stressful jobs can put aging boomers at risk Hassles raise blood pressureUSA TODAY - March 08, 2005
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Many baby boomers say they'll keep working as long as possible rather than following in their parents' footsteps out the door to freedom the day they turn 65.
But stressful jobs after age 60 might cause some boomers to put their health at risk, a new study suggests, or at least drive their blood pressure up even as they deny any problems.
Problems on the job raise blood pressure in workers over 60, although they claim to be less upset or sad than younger employees when work problems hit. 'They say they feel less emotion, but their bodies tell a different story,' says University of Utah psychologist Timothy Smith. He and co-author Bert Uchino reported on their study of 384 adults ages 40 to 70 at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting here last week.
Participants wore monitors that took blood pressure readings every 45 minutes during one day; they also recorded their moods and told whether they were dealing with a problem every time the blood pressure was checked.
Diastolic (lower number) blood pressure jumped about 5 points during stressful times at work, but only in those who were 60 to 70 years old. The older the person, the higher his blood pressure was under stress. Although younger people said they were more perturbed than their elders about hassles, they didn't show the increases in blood pressure.
Older workers may be more vulnerable to cardiovascular problems if they stay in high-pressure jobs, Smith says. So they might want to look for ways they can reduce stress at work.
The 'What, me worry?' verbal response of older employees makes sense, says Ken Dychtwald, president of Age Wave, a San Francisco think tank that focuses on aging boomers. 'The older ones are less likely to get thrown out of a wagon when they hit a bump or two. They have experience and perspective.'
But their bodies often aren't as resilient as those of younger workers, Dychtwald adds. Young employees, though, are more likely to get distracted, have accidents on the job and miss work, he says.
Although boomers often favor working into their 60s and beyond, 'they'll say, 'I don't want to work as hard.' People no longer think it's good to work like a mad dog for 40 years and then have 25 years of total leisure,' he says. 'The boomers will find work that's enjoyable but less stressful.'
To see more of USAToday.com, or to subscribe, go to http://www.usatoday.com
© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Back to News