Ageism in treating the oldest old

This guest blog was contributed by Occupational Therapist, Chrissy Bishop.

As an occupational therapist working in intermediate care, a common predicament occurring in health care environments is the constant battle with prejudices and age discrimination, consequently in meeting the needs of people over age 85: the ‘oldest old’ (or as some refer to this age group, the ‘frail elderly’).

When planning discharge and care for an over-85 client, a fundamental dilemma of the multi-disciplinary team is establishing rehabilitation needs. This means making an informed decision and estimating how they will manage at home, and assessing their ability to regain independence in activities of daily living.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for unintentional age discrimination to occur, fundamentally related to the capability of the oldest old of engaging in a rehabilitative treatment plan to maximise their level of independence in their preferred home environment.

In retrospect, why does this age discrimination still occur? We need to challenge our assumptions about people.

Rehabilitation teams need to continually ask questions such as:

  • Exactly what is the reasoning for your 100 year old patient who has recently fallen to go into a care home?
  • Would you consider this change of home environment for a “faller” in their 60s or 70s?
  • Do you consider loneliness when discharging the oldest old back home?
  • Is your patient educated on the effects of the medications they take, and has anyone looked at possible medication interactions?
  • Are they even taking medications correctly? Continue reading “Ageism in treating the oldest old”