What we think impacts more than just our mood. What we think impacts our feelings and actions. With this “thinking, feeling, action” continuum, we can impact those around us.

Ageism is when we have bias, stereotypes and prejudice about people based on age. It changes how we view and respond to people. This is true both in our personal and professional lives. 

We know that ageism impacts how healthcare is delivered. Things like elderspeak and both under- and overtreatment can result. 

This recent story from Janet Masters, nurse practitioner and Change AGEnt with Changing the Narrative, illustrates how this can look in practice:

“My dad is currently in the hospital and the hospitalist came in while I was there and the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “since your dad is 98 . . .”  Not even knowing my dad’s goals for healing and care, this guy was making assumptions that my dad wouldn’t want any more testing. It really made me angry. We, as healthcare professionals, need to ask the older patient what THEY want, no matter their age. 
 
Ironically, this doc came in just after my dad said to me, “You know, Janet, I really want to keep living and doing things. I still have things to do and people to impact in this life.” I’m sure that doc had no idea how my dad feels about his health and life. 

What resonates with me is how our own beliefs can impact our patients’ outcomes. Additionally, we can learn as healthcare workers to not make assumptions about how our patients feel about aging, and work to understand their goals for their care.
 
Why do we as healthcare professionals get so focused on age being one of the primary drivers to the delivery of care?”

We can do something about this, whether we are healthcare professionals or consumers. We do not need to accept the assumption that our age means that our quality of life is worth less. Everyone deserves equity in healthcare.

Learn more from our Age-Friendly Healthcare campaign

 

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