Ageism is a social issue that is prevalent amonghealth care providers and the public. According to (Eymard &Douglas, 2012), ageism affects the quality of services that theelderly receive in medical centers. The term ageism was first used byButler in 1975 to define the negative attitudes that people hadtowards the older members of the society (Eymard & Douglas,2012). It is a term that describes the bias, discrimination,unwarranted negative perception and stereotyping directed at peoplebecause of their age (Bodner & Cohen-Fridel, 2010 Eymard &Douglas, 2012). The notion of ageism has persisted in thecontemporary society despite the numerous campaigns from thegovernment as well as health care institutions, which attempt todispel the bias that people have against the elderly members of thesociety. This persistence in ageism has been attributed to thestereotype that depicts older people as stubborn, grumpy, and rudedependents (Eymard & Douglas, 2012). Moreover, most of theelderly are viewed as weak people with weak memory, who aredissociated from the reality of the contemporary society. Studies todetermine the people were more likely to practice ageism have shownthat both adults and adults are equally responsible for theproliferation of negative attitudes against the old. This articleseeks to discuss the issue ageism in the contemporary society, with aparticular focus on the challenges, implications, and possiblesolutions for the problem of ageism.
Over the years, different groups of stakeholdershave attempted to dispel the notion of ageism from the society.Despite the extensive campaigns to create awareness and eliminate theissue of ageism, people still shun the elderly and continue todiscriminate against. Eymard & Douglas (2012) asserted that fewerpeople are choosing to specialize in geriatrics, with the majority ofthe people who take medicine opting for other fields other thangeriatrics. Even though the current population of the elderly in theUS is more educated, the negative attitude toward them persists.Research on the issue has revealed that ageism is an existingpopulation among the general population. However, the problem ofageism among health care workers is yet to be researched (Eymard &Douglas, 2012).
Another challenge in the fight to eliminate ageismis the poor training that health care providers have (Eymard &Douglas, 2012). Due to the lack of interest in geriatrics, themajority of the nurses, who are the primary people, caring for theaged members of the society do not receive the required training toensure that they dispel of any negative perception that they haveagainst old people. As such, the culture of ageism persists amongeven among the health care workers. Nurses play a paramount role inassisting the elderly. Therefore, they should be the first people tobe targeted when trying to eliminate ageism and its effects in thesociety.
Blancato & Ponder (2015) stated that, unlikeother forms of discrimination, ageism is not an issue that faces aspecific community or person. Instead, it is a widespread issueaffects every member of the society, who lives to see old age. Hence,this issue every member of the society can affect any member of thesociety irrespective of race, political affiliation, and background.The indiscriminate nature of this issue is a major challenge to thestakeholders, especially healthcare workers and government, whoseintention is to eliminate the problem and allow the aged members ofthe society to live the rest of their lives in peace and comfort.Stakeholders campaigning against ageism fail to find specific targetgroup to educate because the problem is widespread in the nation.
Consequences and Implication of Ageism
Ageism has been known to have detrimental effectson the old members of the society. Bodner & Cohen-Fridel (2010)asserted that one of the major implications of ageism is affectingthe quality of life of the elderly. The neglect, which results fromthe ageism, often affects the state of mind, well-being, and esteemof the elderly. The elderly usually suffer from psychologicaldistress because they do not receive proper care. Ageism usuallyleaves older people feeling isolated, thus causing mental distressand strain. The psychological distress is a precursor for stress anddepression. The resulting effect of stress is that the elderly failto perform their daily tasks as efficiently as they could beforediscrimination.
In addition, stress and depression have beendocumented to affect the immune system, which in turn affect thehealth of elderly. In the opinion of Eymard & Douglas (2012), theUnited States has seen an increase in the number of chronically illpeople, especially the old members of the society. Thirty-fivepercent of the hospital`s stays are older people over the age of 65.In addition, 73% of the total ambulatory care and 34% ofpharmacological is provided to the old people in the society (Eymard& Douglas, 2012). The poor health of old people often affectstheir longevity. Most old people, who suffer from chronic ageism, dieearlier than anticipated. As such, ageism can be deemed as anaccelerant of mortality among the old.
Apart from accelerating mortality, the issue ofageism has been known to affect the financial security and well-beingof the older people (Setzfand & Watson, 2015). The biased viewsthat have shown older as weak and mentally unstable have made themvulnerable to swindlers and fraudsters. Most swindlers believe thatthe old adults lack financial knowledge and utilize this aspect toattack them. America has improved the retirement benefit landscape toensure the financial security of the old. However, ageism hasisolated the elderly, thus making them lonely and depressed.Fraudsters often identify these issues and utilize the aspect ofloneliness and health related issues to swindle the old (Setzfand &Watson, 2015). The loss of savings and other resources to fraudstersmakes it difficult for the old adult to purchase their fundamentalneeds and other services, such as health care. This, in turn, affectsthe financial security of the old as well as their well-being.
Even though the problem of ageism is widespreadand continues to increase, it is important to understand thatscholars have proposed various solutions to this challenge. Eymard &Douglas (2012) proposed that nurses and health care workers workingwith the old people should receive proper training to allow them totake proper care of elderly. Insufficiency of training among healthcare workers is a major problem. As such, an interactive learningenvironment is believed to one of the remedies to the problem ofageism. It is imperative that the Americans change their culture,view the nurses, and direct care workers as part of the health careteam. Consequently, they ought to provide the necessary training toensure that these healthcare workers have the proper knowledge todispel the issue of ageism.
Blancato & Ponder (2015), proposed a reform inthe healthcare system to ensure that the issue ageism is redressedfrom within. According to the authors, it is imperative that thefederal government rebalances the healthcare funds and directs to thehomes that house the older adults. They believe that an expansion ofthis strategy would not only show that the federal governmentrecognizes the homes for the elderly, but also allow the community tobe aware of the value of providing a better quality of life to olderpersons (Blancato & Ponder, 2015). Besides reforming thehealthcare system, Blancato & Ponder (2015), believes that thegovernment also need to enact laws that benefit caregivers who takecare of the old. In addition, older people who are guardians andcaregivers ought to be protected by the law. Currently, approximately5 million older adults are primary caregivers to their grandchildren.However, they only get 10% of the grants from a federal program thattargets the caregivers (Blancato & Ponder, 2015). To ensure thatthe older caregivers are not viewed as dependents, the governmentshould make sure they formulate a policy that addresses thelong-standing challenge of funding elderly caregivers.
Ageism is a major problem in the contemporarysociety. First defined by Butler in 1975, several scholars havestudied this ageism to determine the challenges, implication, andfeasible solutions to the problem. One of the challenges of ageism isthat fewer people are choosing careers in geriatrics. Additionally,nurses who choose geriatrics receive poor training. These challengeshave had various implications in gerontology, especially the nurseswho observe increased mortality rate among the old adults. Apart fromthis, the concept of ageism has influenced the financial security ofthe old adults as it increases their vulnerability to scammers.Despite these implications, scholars believe that reforms in thehealthcare system, as well as proper training, would contributetowards the fight against ageism.
Blancato, R. B., & Ponder, M. (2015). The Public Policies We Need to Redress Ageism. Journal of the American Society on aging, 39(2), 91-95.
Bodner, e., & Cohen-Fridel, S. (2010). Relation Between Attachment Styles, Ageism, and Quality of Life in Late Life. International Psychogeriatrics, 22(8), 1353-1361.
Eymard, S. A., & Douglas, D. H. (2012). Ageism among Health Care Providers and Intervention to improve Their Attitudes toward Older Adult. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 38(5), 26-34.
Setzfand, J., & Watson, M. (2015). Passive Ageism and Its Effect on Older Adults` Finances. Generations, 39(3), 39-45.