The modern-day society glorifies the youth and despises or even fears the old people. In the healthcare world, the elderly tend to be treated differently from the young people. The aged receive a less aggressive medical treatment as compared to the younger patients with similar symptoms. For instance, research shows that older women have less likelihood of receiving chemotherapy and radiation after they undergo breast cancer surgery. This happens despite the fact that they have a higher probability of dying from the disease than the younger women. This discussion is going to focus on the issues of age and bias especially concerning healthcare as well as create a community education plan to address aging bias.
Aging is an individualized, complex, and highly stereotyped experience and/or process particularly in western cultures. In the modern-day culture or society, stereotypes of the aged are usually overstated and unchallenged beliefs associated with a popular category that is entrenched in written, verbal and visual contexts of the society. Some of the common aging stereotypes include generalizations and assumptions concerning how a certain age ought to behave or what they are experiencing regardless of the unique individual circumstances. In most cases, the stereotypes are a form of social oppression by age since they promote the belief that the elderly will undesirably be susceptible to certain illnesses (Ouchida & Lachs, 2015). In fact, this view gives little regard to the diversity offered by the age differences since the older people are mostly wiser. Unfortunately, most medical care providers unconsciously possess this same attitude towards the aged patients. For example, if an elderly individual has an unapparent health problem, medical practitioners tend to accept the condition as being an old age consequence (Ouchida & Lachs, 2015). Conversely, the health professional is likely to approach a younger person's health issue differently. That is, they are likely to make a more concerted effort to correct the health complication for the young person as compared to the elderly. To be precise, a medical practitioner appears to treat an old age as a disease or health problem in itself (Ward, 2000). Since there is no treatment or cure for old age, the practitioners rarely or hardly make any efforts.
In many cases, the elderly end up believing that they are just aging and not old, hence they do not take the issues any seriously. They believe that they are no longer important to socio-economic matters that make little or no attempt to keep fit, active, and healthy. The healthcare system and practitioners are required to change their approach when it comes to the seniors. Ageism has permeated health care providers' attitude, the mindset of the elderly, as well as the structure of the healthcare system about the quality and amount of healthcare, requested and offered to the elderly (Ouchida & Lachs, 2015). It is sad to note that despite the ever-increasing need for healthcare providers with geriatrics expertise, most physicians tend to view the provision of healthcare to the elderly as less rewarding, uninteresting or even frustrating. The negative attitudes towards healthcare for the elderly tend to be shaped by the continued misconceptions that the elderly patients are frail, demented, or somehow impossible to salvage.
Within the healthcare system, the discrimination of individuals could have several harmful effects. For example, some of the doctors may assume that the health issue is serious hence over treating. This could be as a result of the misguided health recommendations for older people that may end up worsening their health situation.
I have witnessed age bias in the healthcare system where the elderly are undertreated or overtreatment. Healthcare practitioners assume lower cognitive capabilities among the elderly as well as the assumption that sedentary lifestyle among the aged. Senior profiling tends to occur among most healthcare providers, which in most cases results in inappropriate medical care. For instance, where an elderly lady might get a recommendation for a higher diuretic dose and then she gets hospitalized from dehydration when she becomes delirious (Jones, 2017). When hospitalized, most caregivers tend to presume that due to her old age, she has advanced dementia and, therefore, the hospital recommends for discharge in the name of old age.
Similar to other forms of discrimination and prejudice, ageism tends to grow out of our culture and is actually part of everyone. Healthcare experts argue that medical care is shaped by the ageist an assumption that hurts everyone as it leads to increased disability and mortality, premature independence loss as well as depression amongst the elderly who can still live a satisfying, productive, and healthier lifestyle (Kydd & Fleming, 2015). If left unconstrained, age bias in the healthcare system will become a larger international challenge. Failure to treat and prevent medical conditions for the aged in need for medical care affects both the elderly and the future generations. If unattended, ageism in the healthcare system will only continue to worsen.
Nonetheless, poor health amongst the elderly is not an inevitable aspect of old age and thus the need to intervene in order to reduce the premature disabilities and deaths of the elderly. Research shows that most healthcare givers are not aware of the older patients' needs (Kane & Kane, 2005). However, in the bid to compound this issue, it is important to ensure that a doctor talks to the caregiver of the elderly to make them less responsive and to feel invisible. Additionally, pursuing a career in healthcare and particularly in geriatrics has to be made more lucrative and attractive for the young physicians.
To deal with the issue of aging bias the community should be educated on this issue. For example, health-promotion educational intervention, which includes better identification of the threats of aging, old age nutrition, physical activity, and mental, physical health status of the elderly. The community education plan should make use of 5As strategy presented in sessions of forty-five minutes. These 5As stand for (Assessment, agree, advice, arrange and assist). Other educational methods such as lectures and questions and answers sessions can be used. Such awareness and provision of information to the community will help reduce the risks of ageism.
In conclusion, it is clear that healthcare givers in geriatrics tend to assume that the elderly are just facing challenges of old age and are not necessarily ill. As a result, this will lead to under-treatment or over-treatment of the elderly. Most geriatrics professionals tend to make assumptions concerning their elderly patients that age is the problem rather than their functional status. Though health complications are inevitable during of old age, there is need to intervene in the current situation to reduce premature deaths, illness, and disability among the aged. Given the appropriate medications and recommendations, the elderly can continue to pursue a productive, active and a happy lifestyle without having to burden caregivers or family members with premature loss of independence. Educating the community about the need for ageism ensures that the senior patients are not discriminated or given inappropriate healthcare. Various educational methods such as lectures, questions, and answers can be used to make the community.
Jones, V. (2017). Ageism in healthcare and How dangerous it can be. Retrieved from: (http://www.nextavenue.org/ageism-health-care-dangerous/)
Kane, R., & Kane, R. (2005). Ageism in healthcare and long-term care. Generations, 29(3), 49-54.
Kydd, A., & Fleming, A. (2015). Ageism and age discrimination in healthcare: Fact or fiction? A narrative review of the literature. Maturitas, 81(4), 432-438.
Ouchida, K. M., & Lachs, M. S. (2015). Not for doctors only: ageism in healthcare. Generations, 39(3), 46-57.
Ward, D. (2000). Ageism and the abuse of older people in health and social care. British Journal of Nursing, 9(9), 560-563.
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