Friday, October 19, 2012

Overcoming Agism

As I was trying to figure out ways to overcome ageism, I stumbled across a great journal by a Canadian medical student, Nathan Stall. It gave me quite an interesting perspective of someone who is concerned about ageism and sees it every day. He suggested three great ways to help alter the increasing ageism seen in the medical field. First he says there should be a zero-tolerance policy for those who approach older people in a negative way because of their age, just as there are policies again racism and sexism. The second way is for academic hospitals to mandate geriatric rotations for medical students to become familiar with the elderly and the complex care that they sometimes need. Lastly, he thinks that the educators should change the way elder care is displayed to ‘junior trainees’ (Stall, 2012). He states that featuring a different type of geriatric concern in daily reports can do this (Stall, 2012).
Stall says that medical students are, ‘…disarmed by lack of preclinical geriatrics education, [and] they quickly learn to adopt this behavior and turn their focus to more “medical” (younger) patients’ (Stall, 2012). Stall takes the topic of ageism and allows it to become real. Too often we hear about things and not realize the magnitude of consequences cast upon people.
In conclusion, ageism is a very real thing. It affects grandmothers and grandfathers all around North America. As citizens, we can help conquer ageism little by little. We can educate ourselves on ageism and try to not become ageists, ourselves. When others display characteristics of ageism, we can share our information and try to educate others. Stand up for what is right and not what is perceived to be right.
I will leave you with my most favorite quote. ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ –Mahatma Gandhi

Stall, N. (2012). Time to end ageism in medical education. Canadian Medical Association.Journal, 184(6), 728-728. Retrieved from

Ageism in Real Life

Over the past 8 weeks, I have interviewed three women aged 65 and over. The names of the interviewees will not be released therefore; I will use the names Mrs. A, B, and C. During the interviews, I defined the term 'ageism' for them and asked them if they had ever experienced ageism before. 

Mrs. A asked me, 'Well, what do you mean? That some people think of me different just because I am older?' I told her that was correct. She was very quick to come back and say, 'No, I have never felt like anyone has treated me differently now that I am older.'

Mrs. B told me, 'No, I do not think so, or not in an instance that I can remember. And even if they did, I would probably just ignore them.'

Ageism came up in the conversation I had with Mrs. C before I even asked her about it. Recently, she has had some major medical problems and has dealt with doctors on many occasions. When I was asking her about what the doctor told her about her latest problem, she said she did not know and that, 'The doctors just try to fix me and get me back out the door. They do not take time for an old woman like me.' It was pretty evident to me at this point that Mrs. C had undoubtedly experienced ageism. At this time, I told Mrs. C what ageism was and asked her if she felt as if the doctor was being ageist toward her. She said that she felt that the doctor was acting in this way toward her because she is older. When she realized that the doctor had taken advantage of her older age, it seemed as if it empowered her. Now that she knew what was going on, she could go back to that doctor and 'demand' some answers. 

McGuire, Klein, and Chen, conducted a study named ‘Ageism revisited: A study measuring ageism in East Tennessee, USA’. There were 247 participants. Eighty-four percent (208) of the participants reported experiencing ageism at least once and 71% (176) of the participants experienced ageism two or more times. In this cross-sectional study, statistical significance was found in those that lived in urban/suburban areas vs. those in rural areas. The elderly that lived in urban/suburban areas were more likely to experience ageism on more than one occasion while those who like in rural areas were likely to have only experienced ageism once. The most common type of ageism felt by the participant’s in this study was by a joke that made fun of old people, followed by receiving birthday cards that make fun of older people. These two experiences were closely followed by ‘A doctor or nurse assumed my ailments were caused by my age’ (McGuire, Klein, and Chen, 2008). The researchers concluded, ‘Ageist attitudes are highly contagious and tend to propagate, becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. We have the potential to create generations who value not only their own aging, but the older people around them’ (McGuire, Klein, and Chen, 2008).


It is interesting to read studies done on ageism when most of the population has never heard the word ‘ageism’ and even more probably do not realize what they are saying/doing is ageist. I hope the media begins making these types of studies headliners to make people aware that there is an issue that needs to be worked on. Mrs. C was completely correct in that the doctor was most likely showing signs of ageism. How can we put a stop to this doctor’s view on older people? I believe it begins by confronting the problem. If the elderly are unable to stand up for themselves, who will?

McGuire, S. L., Klein, D. A. and Chen, S.-L. (2008), Ageism revisited: A study measuring ageism in East Tennessee, USA. Nursing & Health Sciences, 10: 11–16. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2007.00336.x

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ageist Photos

I would like to share a few photos I found that relate to ageism. When the public sees photos like these, it builds and enhances ageist views. In a time that our countries population is growing older by the day, the media should really think about the unintended consequences of its' actions.

This first picture is an ad against ageism. It is making a point that older people are ignored; in this case because the older lady has grey hair. It also gives the older woman an expiration date as if she is just waiting to die or that at this time her life will be of no use.

 In this picture, someone took a simple picture and added in the caption. The caption gives the audience a sense of authority over an 'old woman'. It gives the public the thought that if you need easy money, you can just steal an older woman's purse.
 This cartoon depicts an old man hunched over because he is having back trouble. It is ageist to believe that all older men have back pain and are hunched over because of it.
I thought this cartoon was interesting. It is so stereotypical to show a older woman, with white hair, glasses, a long skirt, and a rolling pin. The epitome of an older domesticated woman.

References (in order of picture),r:3,s:0,i:81&biw=895&bih=586

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


            When you feel as if a negative stigma is stereotyped on you because you are a certain color, it is called racism. When you feel as if you have not been given the same equal opportunity as the other sex, it is called sexism. When you apply for a job and you are told you are too old to work, it is called ageism.
            Ageism is a new word to me. I had never heard of it until last week when I was doing some readings. I realized at that moment that even I was at fault for sometimes stereotyping older people.  Honestly, I think everyone has at some point. I think this stereotype has mostly, and more predominately, occurred in my generation, Generation Y. In the ‘old days’ whenever parents could no longer take care of themselves, the children took care of them. Now, as Generation Y’s parents are getting older, long-term care facilities are growing drastically. Instead of living with their children, they are living in long term care facilities. I hope in my interviews in the next few weeks I will be able to grasp a better understanding of ageism from an older persons perspective.
            I read a very interesting study on the elderly and primary care physicians named ‘Primary Care for Elderly People: Why Do Doctors Find It So Hard?’  30-40% of doctor’s visits are from those who are 65 and older. However, 30-50% of physician practices limit the amount of patients 65 years of age and older (Flood & Clark, 2009). The study recognizes the reasons why physicians limit their elderly patients by interviewing 20 participants. Three major dilemmas were found. One was that the elderly are complicated. Chronic diseases lead to long-term use of many different medicines (Flood & Clark, 2009), called polypharmacy (Touhy & Jett, 2012). The doctors have to check and recheck all the medicines to make sure there will be no drug interactions. Not to mention, older people have multiple doctors that have prescribed them on different medicines. The second set of dilemmas includes communication issues, time and ethical problems. Some patients may refuse to wear a hearing aid and others may not have learned English as their first language. Both of these communication issues leads to the patient not fully understanding how to take care of their self. Time seems to be a challenge for all doctors. To meet with an elderly person that needs instructions repeated multiple times or doing an exam takes longer because the person is not very mobile takes a lot of time. The last big issue seemed to deal with the hardship of administrative duties. Medicare documentation leaves physician’s offices constantly flooded with paperwork and in the end, the hours of paperwork may not outweigh financially (Flood & Clark, 2009).
            A lot of my current readings have been on medicine and the older adult. Chronic diseases are usually the reason for long-term medicinal use. Pharmacist Lindsay Kaster, from the Boise VA Medical Center, estimates long-term care patients take 6-8 medicines daily (Kaster). This makes it much easier to understand how older adults can easily miss a dose or double dose their medicine. This leads me to believe that between 6-8 medicines some kind of interaction must be going on so that the person so not receiving the proper amount originally prescribed. Most of the time it is presumed that when an older person falls it is because he or she is weak but in fact it could be a side effect from medicine. Often times, this is a reaction that occurs when self-medication is practiced. Benadryl is taken often for allergies, anxiety and sleep. It is also a anticholinergic, which can cause orthostatic hypotension. In other words, taking Benadryl can cause confusion and unsafe drops in blood pressure upon standing (Toucy & Jett, 2012). This is the perfect situation that creates an older person to fall and hurt their self. What does this person do? Does someone live with them or do they live by their self? This is a real life situation that could lead to serious injuries.
            Obviously, this information does not makes us all jump for joy to become older but I do believe it is important for everyone to understand an older persons perspective.

Flood, M., & Clark, R. B. (2009). Exploring Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Aging Among Nursing and Nonnursing Students. Educational Gerontology, 35(7), 587-595. doi:10.1080/03601270802605333
Kaster, L. (n.d.). Medications and older adults. , Boise VA Medical Center.
Touhy, T., & Jett, K. (2012). Ebersole & hess' toward healthy aging:human needs and nursing response. (8 ed.). Missouri: Elsevier Mosby.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Hi, welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by!

This blog is a capstone project for my Health Science 410:Health and Aging course at Boise State University. As my final undergraduate semester at BSU, I have decided to enroll in two courses that deal specifically with aging; this one, Health and Aging, as well as the Sociology of Aging. The aging process is usually something that one fears. A lot of this fear comes from stereotypes that we have been brought up on within our culture. 

As a woman, I have been brought up to never WANT to age. How have I been influenced? Every time I turn on the TV, there is some new product that helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles, a tale-tale sign of aging. The media has made it seem like men only want young, youthful women instead of women their own age. For example, a TV show, movie, or even a song may tell the story of a middle aged couple getting divorced and then the man suddenly has this beautiful woman on his arm, who has no signs of aging. The one that really gets me is plastic surgery. Not that I condone this type of thing because I know it really helps people feel better about themselves (and hey, I may have some of these things done in the future!) However, it is the reasons behind SOME of their surgery. "You've had children? Well, you probably need to have your breasts lifted and lets get rid of the that tummy with a tummy tuck." These things make today's women feel like the more they age, the less and less they are attractive leading to low self-esteem. Of course, this is not always the case. 

Looking deeper into the topic of aging, when you look around how many older people do you see compared to younger people? The Baby Boomers are aging. Here are some statistics for you:
In 2006, 37 million people were 65+ years of age but by 2050, it is expected 86.7 million people will be 65+ years in age (Novak, 2012). If this statement did not affect you, read it again. Our society is getting old. This is a big deal. With the elections coming up, who do you think is listening to find which candidate is going to help them with Medicare and Social Security benefits? You better believe that these aging baby boomers will be voting that candidate in. That means less money for the rest of the country that does not receive those benefits however, it would be benefiting the majority.
The healthcare industry is about to either blossom or explode. With this large amount of people aging, there will be a greater need for doctors, nurses, specialist to deal with chronic conditions as well as so many other things. If the country starts expanding NOW, I think, healthcare would just blossom. If the country neglects this information, our healthcare industry will crumble.

In my blogs I will talk about a vast number of topics ranging from nursing homes to the sexuality of the aging population. This is my way of revealing aging as I learn the facts and leave my prior cultural misunderstandings behind me. Some blogs will be short and to the point if I read something and want to immediately write my views on the topic. Other blogs will be reflections on my time spent in interviews with those who have aged. Some things will be my personal opinion and it is okay if not everyone agrees with me. I encourage comments and feedback if you have any insights on the topics or want to bring something to my attention.
Until next time,

Novak, M. (2012). Issues in Aging. (3 ed., p. 61). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.