When seniors go to their health care provider to address a medical problem, it’s natural to assume that their concerns will be listened to. But it doesn’t always turn out this way. This post discusses examples of age bias in the health care system.  And the impact it has on the care that they receive, and ways to change it.

 Ageism in Health Care

Ageism in health care towards the senior population is nothing new. It is all too easy for people to assume that older people are frail and helpless, which isn’t true. These assumptions lead to policies such as prioritizing hospital care towards younger people. If an older person speaks slowly, their doctor may be thinking their cognitive function is affected, and they can’t express their medical concerns adequately.

An 84-year-old former professor of pharmacy at UCSF was ignored by her doctor when she asked for a specific antibiotic for a UTI.  Even after explaining her professional background. She later got the prescription changed. But her experience in being under-treated could have led to a compromise in care. In other cases, seniors are over-treated for medical problems that aren’t necessarily as complex as they are made out to be. A 2018 study conducted by Yale University found that upwards of $63 billion dollars of health care costs are spent each year as the result of ageism.

How to Combat Ageism

Ageism is deeply rooted within the health care system, so making systemic change will not happen overnight. But steps can be taken. These include making sure that health care providers take implicit bias training and exposing younger medical professionals to older people as they go through training. The most important way to combat ageism is through advocacy. Older people should not be afraid to advocate for the care they want.  Or to ask a friend or family member to advocate on their behalf.

Seniors in Newport Beach and Orange County, CA deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. At Optimal Senior Care Solutions, our goal is to provide necessary care to our clients without taking away their independence and ability to express the type of care they want. To learn more about the care services we offer, reach out to us today.