Dr. Robert N. Butler, the first director of the National Institute on Aging defined ageism as the “Systematic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are old.” Furthermore, as stated by Regis College, “Ageism can be cognitive in the form of stereotypes, emotional in the form of prejudice, or behavioral in the form of discrimination. It may also be implicit or explicit, and manifest itself among individuals, within social networks, or via institutional policies or cultural traditions.”
Needless to say, ageism is a problem in today’s society. In health care, ageism can manifest in a number of ways. A treatable pathology might be dismissed by doctors as a feature of old age, ageist jokes might be shared, or a patient’s disease might be treated as a natural effect of aging. But there is good news. A study by the American Journal of Public Health revealed that ageism-related interventions could positively affect attitudes, knowledge, and comfort in the healthcare setting. To improve outcomes, the appropriate methods must be used. To make a significant difference, there are a few methods that healthcare systems can use to fight ageism.
Age diversity refers to the “acceptance of different ages in a professional environment.” Businesses of all sizes, as well as health care institutions, are encouraged to do everything they can to adjust to an aging population. This in turn will automatically prevent ageism in the workplace.
When it comes to fighting ageism, it’s important to have a workforce in the healthcare field with people of all ages. Many times, people who are older feel as though they cannot work in healthcare due to its fast-paced nature. It’s best to encourage older adults to be in healthcare as they can put a positive light and knowledge base into practice. Needless to say, they’re a great asset when it comes to mentoring and educating younger generations.
Specialized Training Programs
Taking care of older adults is a specialized skill set. They face unique physical and mental health challenges. Some healthcare systems have specific providers who work with a geriatric population. However, all healthcare workers should receive annual training in caring for older adults. This may include more complex topics such as Beer’s criteria list of medications to use cautiously in the elderly. Additionally, signs of elder abuse are another important aspect that should be addressed.
When it comes to methods that are effective for combating ageism in healthcare, the programs which are incredibly effective tend to be multifactorial. Instead of sticking with one approach, they use a variety of methods to make people aware of ageism and also overcome any biases in this area. Since older adults may have special needs or concerns, healthcare systems should be leaders in the fight against ageism. With these methods, it is possible to ensure that older adults are not going to face any discrimination in the healthcare system.