Why an ageism in healthcare campaign?

Ageism impacts our health

Studies show that ageism leads to significantly worse health outcomes. Many people have internalized ageism, making them less likely to seek care. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed ageism. Decision making protocols specified treating younger people before older people in hospitals and there were dire consequences for older adults living in nursing homes.

Ageism impacts quality of healthcare

Healthcare professionals, like anyone else, can have their own biases about older adults that affect treatment. For instance, older patients have been found to be under-treated for pain. Ageism impacts communication. Some providers use “elderspeak” and talk down to older adults or speak only to their care partners.

Ageism in healthcare costs money

Being sick is expensive and ageism makes people sicker. Research by Dr. Becca Levy and her team at the Yale School of Public Health found that the one-year cost associated with ageism’s influence in major diseases at $63 billion.

Take Action on Ageism in Healthcare

The good news is that there are things we can do about this, as individuals, healthcare students and healthcare professionals!

Age-Friendly Healthcare- Ageism Challenges & Responses – This quick guide is for both individuals and healthcare providers, with examples of how ageism appears & ideas about what to do instead.

Advocate for Your Health: Even with good intent, healthcare providers sometimes say something ageist. This guide gives some specific examples of how to respond to ageist questions or statements from your healthcare provider.

Age-Friendly Healthcare Campaign Resources – This is a list of academic and other sources that go into deeper detail about topics related to the impact of ageism and healthcare.

More resources:

Interested in more information about age-friendly healthcare? Contact Kris Geerken.

Antidotes for Ageism Short Film

Watch the Antidotes for Ageism Trailer Below!

Ageism is a real problem everywhere, including in healthcare. It isn’t just wrong; it has impacts on our health, lifespan and economy. That’s why, in partnership with the Boulder County Area Agency on Aging, we created:

Antidotes for Ageism:

A brief guide to creating inclusive care in an ageist society

(Running time: approximately 16 minutes)

The short film is a compilation of interviews with professionals who serve older adults and are experts in their fields. Learn from their insights about what ageism is and how it shows up in healthcare settings. Inspire your community to take actionable steps that will remove ageism from healthcare.

From the film:

““Many times when the information is lacking, health care professionals simply omit instead of converse, and I think that’s an ageism problem where we’re deciding for the patient rather than the patient directing care with the best information we have available.” Dr. Jeff Wallace, Geriatrician

“Age discrimination, whether you’re older, whether you’re younger, has a cost for us all . . . The cost is loss of productivity, loss of knowledge, loss of insights . . . If we are more open and inclusive to people of all ages, then we all benefit.” Tony Tapia, Member, Colorado Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging

“My goal is to change the way we think about growing older, and to create a new reality where every one of us as we age can experience true belonging, meaningful purpose, and continued growth in our lives.” Jill Vitale-Aussem, President & CEO, Christian Living Communities

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