The Elderly Decry Age Discrimination From Healthcare Professionals

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : October 20, 2021

Joanne Whitney, the 84-year-old retired associate clinical professor of the University of California, often feels de-valued when talking with doctors. 

A few years ago, Joanne told an ER doctor that his planned prescription is not going to help with her type of urinary tract infection. Even after showing her credentials, he refused to listen to her. In another instance, she asked to meet someone.

They refused to grant her request. Fed up, she left.

The Elderly Decry Age Discrimination From Healthcare Professionals

Joanne is a survivor of lung cancer and cancer of the urethra. Today, she is dependent on a catheter meant to drain urine from the bladder. Another outpatient doctor, however, modified her prescription.

This year too, she had to consult the same emergency room that ignored her earlier. This time, she was suffering from another instance of a urinary tract infection.

The Elderly Decry Age Discrimination From Healthcare Professionals

And she was screaming in pain. She requested the doctor to prescribe her Dilaudid. It is a high-dose drug that had eased her pain in the past. 

He told her that they don’t prescribe the medicines patients request. He wanted to see if Tylenol will help her. She had to suffer the pain for eight hours.

According to her, doctors give utmost importance to the fact that she was old. When the elderly come to doctors, they fail to receive the level of commitment they deserve. They appear to treat their pain as something that naturally happens. They will have lots of pain.

Joanne is an example of the discrimination the elderly suffer in healthcare scenarios. This is getting new attention nowadays. More than 50000000 people aged above 65 succumbed to COVID 19.

Ageism is a scenario when others discriminate against them because of their age. Healthcare professionals are prejudiced against the elderly that they are generally ill and hapless. This, according to her, is a wrong notion. Prejudice comes out when people treat the elderly in general as a tough-to-handle group of people.

Discrimination happens when the elderly don’t receive the treatment they deserve or they don’t get the respect they command. It also happens when healthcare professionals give priority to youngsters.

Ageism is generally more evident in the healthcare environment. Plans to ration healthcare and to prioritize youngsters over the elderly.

Youngsters generally get preference because they have years to live on.

An advocacy group for the elderly, Justice in Aging, has registered a complaint with the country’s Department of Health and Human Services. It alleges that the crisis standard care is ageist.

Ageism also forces people to make compromises when caring for the elderly. For certain doctors, the elderly in general suffer from cognitive decline. And they don’t involve them in their treatment. For others, they come to the hospitals ready to die. And they want their elderly patients to sign off all required papers. They are surprised even at the indication that their patients are alert and can write.

Some even don’t listen to them when the elderly describe their discomforts. They tend to over-medicate their old patients.

Still, others make them feel invisible. When they ask something, doctors think that they don’t know anything. And they don’t answer their questions.

As per the data available, one among five of the inmates in a nursing home has some of the other pain. And they fail to receive the treatment they deserve.

When older people go for their regular checkups, the only thing doctors would want to know is how they want to die. And they come up with all sorts of documents.

Some refuse to submit to such treatments and look for alternatives. But not many succeed in this regard.

There are also doctors who care for the elderly in the same way as they treat their younger patients. For them, ageism is a blot on the nation.

Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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