Boomers, Seniors & Ageism – Affects Ageism Has on Healthcare & Caregivers

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Age 65 you have a disease!

The assumption is age causes decline when in fact illness is more often the cause. Ageism also causes complacency in healthcare and affects the quality of care. It is also a serious issue that is perpetuated by our healthcare system, institutions and society in general. According to the International Longevity Center report Ageism In America:

1. 60 percent of victims identified from Hurricane Katrina were age 61 or older.

2. Within 24 hours following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, animal advocates were on the scene rescuing pets, yet older and disabled people were abandoned in their apartments for up to seven days before ad hoc medical teams arrived to rescue them.

3. 35% of doctors erroneously consider an increase in blood pressure to be a normal process of aging.

4. Only 10 percent of people aged 65 and over receive appropriate screening tests for bone density, colorectal and prostate cancer, and glaucoma. This despite the fact that the average age of colorectal cancer patients is 70, more than 70 percent of prostate cancer is diagnosed in men over 65, and people over 60 are six times more likely to suffer from glaucoma.

Services and Assistive Aids

Ageism has a serious affect on the lives of seniors and caregivers. Most seniors have chronic (long term) conditions not acute (short term) conditions. Those you may look to for advice, have little or no training on the aging process (like social workers, therapists and doctors). There are services and assistive devices available that can help the caregiver and those they care for. Your biggest obstacle may be ageism and / or a lack of knowledge by those in healthcare. You have others that may just be looking to make a buck. Then you have home healthcare providers that have little if any incentive to focus on prevention and safety. Ask yourself this question:

Why would a home healthcare company tell you about assistive aids or provide other information that could reduce the need for their services?

They won't until they are forced to do so. A perfect example is what Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) did in hospitals with Hospital Acquired Conditions (HAC's) to improve patient safety. Hospitals had little incentive to prevent falls and infections until CMS stopped rewarding them for causing the fall or infection by paying for it. The same thing needs to happen in home healthcare. We need to reward quality outcomes and prevention not a proliferation of needs often based on greed. Many people will not perform a daily task if they are not encouraged to do it for themselves. It's a fine line for ability verses actual inability to perform a task. It is also a fine line between need and greed.

Those in healthcare are not sensitive or aware of the physical or physiological effects of the tools they recommend. Often the recommender does not know the intended use and many times seniors blame themselves for injuries that are not their fault. Injuries are rarely reported which increases injury risks and promotes the proliferation of unsafe ineffective products. This is another part of how ageism affects the health and welfare of our seniors and caregivers. Misleading marketing is prolific in this arena. Many companies want a piece of the healthcare market without following basic consumer labeling let alone regulations that may apply to products. Assistive aids can truly make a difference yet many lack quality or a design to address needs.

Ageism opens all of us up to the affects and consequences of what it creates. It takes a toll on caregivers many of them are boomers raising a family and often dealing with their own health issues. All of which affects lives personally and financially adding to healthcare costs for all. Seniors pay a higher price for the lack of care and concern in their well-being and value. We are finding out where government stands on ageism as they cut valuable services in hard financial times, which creates a higher cost to our society as a whole. Will we learn in time that ageism doesn't pay!

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