Yunting “Mary” Yu
English 9 Honors
16 December 2012
Ageism in Health Care
Almost everyone has had an elderly person in their life that cared and loved them dearly. In return, those people who experienced that love will care for their elders back. However, what people do not know is that elders are generally discriminated because of age. When they participate in treatments at hospitals or programs hosted by healthcare providers, the quality of the treatment goes down. Those elders are experiencing ageism in healthcare. Ageism in healthcare is a type of oppression because elders have been mistreated due to age, denied certain medical opportunities, and experienced a decrease in the number of geriatric doctors. Elders who become hospitalized are often mistreated. The nurses that care for them greet and treat them with bad attitudes. These bad attitudes often contribute to depression and early deaths for those elders. Elders are often told that their illnesses are “normal” and that there is most likely no real cure for it. “Instead of offering treatments and assistive devices such as hearing aids for hearing loss, many physicians relegate such decreases in ability as, ‘simply a natural part of getting older’” (“Combating Ageism in Care Circles: Altering Perceptions.” par. 2). In the end, elders are given negative stereotypical comments and assumptions that result in a decrease in the elder’s self confidence and esteem. Elderly patients in hospitals are often belittled by nurses and called offensive names. Doris Roberts has testified that she and her elderly peers are often “portrayed as dependent, helpless, unproductive and demanding rather than deserving” (Dittmann par. 10). Insults like these will dramatically lower elders’ self-esteem. It has also been said that lower self-esteem has contributed to mental illnesses and basic health issues. “Elderly cancer patients are even more affected by ageist attitudes and beliefs, and as a result experience poorer health outcomes.” (Simkins par. 1) This proves that when an elder is treated badly, their health will decrease. When the elderly are receiving treatment in hospitals, they are often treated unfairly. Because of a simple age difference, they are given a less effective treatment compared to those younger than them. Doctors are usually very ageist; they sport very different attitudes when treating older patients compared to younger ones. These doctors believe that their goal is to cure a certain disease or illness; they do not strive to prolong it as long as possible, as what they would be doing for elders. Younger patients are often treated more aggressively and cared for more than the elderly (Currey par. 9, 12). Doctors often believe that children have a better chance of survival and a long life ahead of them (Turcotte par. 12). In this way, elders are mistreated because they don’t receive the same treatment for something that someone younger than them would receive; therefore lowering the elders’ chances of survival and proving that elders are mistreated. If doctors had the chance to choose their patients, most of them would not choose those with an older age. “The results [to a study] support the hypothesis that health care providers often favor younger people over older adults when providing care because they are perceived as being more productive and as having greater potential to live longer and healthier lives” (Simkins par. 5). This study shows that doctors would prefer younger patients over older ones, a form of ageism. When there is less of an interest in treating the patient, the quality of the treatment will go down. There would also be a smaller amount of doctors actually willing to treat elders. Elders are often not offered the same opportunities as those younger than they are. There are always limits on equipment available for use to elders. People over a certain age are not allowed to find out screening results. Because of an age...
Cited: Bowling, Ann. “Honour Your Father and Mother: Ageism in Medicine.” The National Center for Biotechnology Information. The British Journal of General Practice, 2007. Web. 16 November 2012. < http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2047005/>.
Simkins, Chelsea L. “Ageism influence on Health Care Delivering and Nursing Practice.” Journaling of Nursing Student Research. Berkeley Electronic Press, 2007. Web. 15 November 2012. <http://respository.upenn.edu/josnr/vol1/iss1/5>.
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