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Tackling Age Discrimination in Healthcare: A Conversation for Patients, Nurses, and Clinicians

Tackling Age Discrimination in Healthcare: A Conversation for Patients, Nurses, and Clinicians

  • October 23, 2021
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What does age discrimination look like in healthcare? It can be a thoughtless joke that makes an elderly person feel humiliated. Or the assumption that patients are unable to follow a conversation or make their own decisions. Perhaps it occurs when a concern is voiced, then devalued or dismissed.

Age discrimination is reflected in care strategies that ignore a patient’s values ​​and ideas about a productive life. Too often, attitudes like “these patients are old and about to end” or “we can’t help them much” predominate.

Age discrimination isn’t new, but the Covid pandemic has shocked it into focus. In its early days, the virus was dismissed as a concern of particular concern to the elderly, and some argued that if the alternative was to shut down the economy, it would be dispensable. In the difficult months that followed, many people who died in care were dehumanized in news reports showing body bags stacked outside of facilities. To date, around 80% of those who have died from Covid-19 have been older adults, including nearly 140,000 nursing home residents – a population plagued by staff shortages, inadequate infection control and neglect.

KHN and the John A. Hartford Foundation hosted a web event Thursday. Judith Graham, KHN columnist Navigating Aging, moderated the discussion. She was accompanied by:

  • Dr. Louise Aronson, Geriatric, Professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, and author of Elderhood.
  • Dr. Michael Wassermann, a geriatrician, advocate for older adults at risk during the pandemic, and chairman of the public policy committee for the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine.
  • Dr. Javette Orgain, a family doctor and medical director for the Illinois Longevity Health Plan serving nursing home residents; past president of the National Medical Association, which represents African American doctors and their patients; and former vice dean of the Urban Health Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
  • Dr. Rebecca Elon, a geriatrician who cared for her mother, who had dementia, and her husband, who passed away earlier this year.
  • Jess Mason, an attorney and executive director of the Maine Council on Aging who has the an anti-ageism promise.

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Reference: khn.org

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