The demographic development obviously affects the occupational domain. While the percentage of older employees grows in European countries, the employment rate in the 55- to 64-year-old population was 41.7 % in 2003. The European Union has set a target rate at 50 % by 2013, which means an increase of 8.3 % within 10 years (, p. 362; numbers refer to the EU15 countries). Furthermore, the prolongation of working lifetime requires many people to work in older age.
From the point of view of human factors and ergonomics (, p. 381), the work environment should fit human needs. This relates both to the work performance and the well-being. The latter also is considered as an important influence on work performance. This is particularly true for older humans, who experience changes in the sensory and physiological status. The number of accidents at work is not higher as in younger age groups, while inactive periods due to accidents last longer. Certainly, there are decreases in several physical, visual and cognitive abilities like short-term memory. On the other hand, Dul et al.  list mental growth (strategic thinking, language skills, motivation, commitment, work expertise) and some aspects of social capabilities (ability to adjust their behaviour) on the positive side (see also ).
In order to solve the demographic challenge, Ilmarinen and colleagues (, p. 363) propose to target four directions: (1) to change the attitudes towards ageing, (2) to increase the knowledge level of managers in age-related issues, (3) to improve age-adjusted and flexible working life and (4) to adjust health care service in meeting the increasing needs of older workers. Consequently, a special ageing management on company level should be introduced, in order to analyse workstations, attitudes and other human factors. The aim is to prolong healthy and productive work life in face of regulations comprising later retirement in several countries.
Until now, the growing demand for such management activities is barely reflected in the literature. McDermott and colleagues  searched several databases (Web of Science, PsycInfo, PubMed, Ergonomic Abstracts) in order to compile a review on workplace interventions targeting the elderly workforce and published from the year 2000 on. Since only six papers were found (published between 2004 and 2007), they widened their search to interventions which were general in their audience but could be useful in particular for the elderly. Another 15 papers were found.
From an exercise science viewpoint, an interventional study of Granacher and colleagues  may be of interest. They conducted a fall prevention exercise programme for middle-aged workers (about 10 years before reaching the retirement age) in a sedentary office environment. Beyond transporting established paradigms (like fall prevention) to the workplace settings, the “ambient assisted living” paradigm introduced above could be useful. With regard to technical assistance, the Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development project (BRAID), a support action in the 7th EU framework programme, includes research on how technology can support the continuation of professional activities before and after retirement. The following aspects were listed (, figure at p. 20):
Ageing at work
Adjusted working space (tailored workstations, light, adapted environment, ergonomics, physical limitations, activity re-assignment)
Inter-generational relations (transferring knowledge, tacit and explicit knowledge, relationship management)
Extending professional life
Keeping links to former employers (relationship employer-senior, advice and support to younger employees)
Freelancing and entrepreneurship (promoting freelancing, monetary income, law and legislation, teleworking)
Professional communities (lifelong learning, community interactions, intermediary organizations, teams solving problems)
While technology may be used in all of these topics, we focus on adjusted working space with regard to movements and training in the following section.