Aging is Not a Disease

It is natural that health care providers such as doctors, pharmacists and nurses will have the same attitude towards aging as other Americans. Without proper geriatric care training, these people can fall into the same trap of treating the elderly differently from younger people. According to the Alliance for Aging Research,

“In recent years evidence has been mounting to suggest that, at all levels in the delivery of healthcare, there is a prevailing bias – ageism – that is at odds with the best interests of older people. This prejudice against the old in American healthcare is evidenced by scores of recent clinical studies, surveys and medical commentaries, many of which are referenced here. In this report, we outline five key dimensions of the ageist bias in which U.S. healthcare fails older Americans:

– Healthcare professionals do not receive enough training in geriatrics to properly care for many older patients.
– Older patients are less likely than younger people to receive preventive care.
– Older patients are less likely to be tested or screened for diseases and other health problems.
– Proven medical interventions for older patients are often ignored, leading to inappropriate or incomplete treatment.
– Older people are consistently excluded from clinical trials, even though they are the largest users of approved drugs.”

A fictional story, often used in the training of geriatric physicians, goes this way:

“A 90 year old man meets with his doctor and complains about pain in his right knee. The doctor tells him, “Well Henry, what do you expect? You’re 90 years old.”

Henry replies, “But doctor my left knee is the same age as my right knee, there’s no pain and it feels just fine!”

Many in the health-care profession consider old age to be a disease itself. Any medical problems are inappropriately attributed to old age as if it were a medical condition. And since there is no cure for old age, appropriate tests and treatment are never performed. Thus, medical problems that may not be related to age and may just as frequently occur in younger people are often not treated.

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