New research demonstrates that working older adults have better health outcomes than unemployed older adults. As an employer of older workers and a provider of housing and services for older adults, you can take steps to encourage and help them stay healthy and employed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pooled National Health Interview Survey data from 1997 through 2011 for adults aged 65 or more years. The data showed that those working in physically demanding occupations had the lowest risk of poor health outcomes. This result suggests a stronger healthy worker effect, according to the agency; service workers were at lowest risk of multiple functional limitations.

The strong association that exists between employment and health status in older adults goes beyond what can be explained by socioeconomic factors, such as education and income, or health behaviors such as smoking, according to the CDC. “Disability accommodations in the workplace could encourage employment among older adults with limitations,” the study authors note.