Kaiser Health News: ‘They Treat Me Like I’m Old and Stupid’: Seniors Decry Health Providers’ Age Bias (October 20, 2021)
Ageism occurs when people face stereotypes, prejudice or discrimination because of their age. The assumption that all older people are frail and helpless is a common, incorrect stereotype. Prejudice can consist of feelings such as “older people are unpleasant and difficult to deal with.” Discrimination is evident when older adults’ needs aren’t recognized and respected or when they’re treated less favorably than younger people.
In health care settings, ageism can be explicit. An example: plans for rationing medical care (“crisis standards of care”) that specify treating younger adults before older adults. Embedded in these standards, now being implemented by hospitals in Idaho and parts of Alaska and Montana, is a value judgment: Young peoples’ lives are worth more because they presumably have more years left to live.
Justice in Aging, a legal advocacy group, filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in September, charging that Idaho’s crisis standards of care are ageist and asking for an investigation.