Essay On Ageism

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The Impact of Ageism on Health Care: Quality of Care and Perceptual Implications
The term “ageism” is not easily understood by most of the population because of its acceptance as normal behavior due to the ingrained attitudes that most people develop in their youth, but health care workers must fully embrace the term within their profession in order to avoid becoming a contributor to the historical prevalence of prejudices and discrimination. The term ageism is defined by Klein and Liu (2010) as “the discrimination of individuals based solely on age” (p. 334). “Ageism is a social construct that is internalized in the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals” (Klein & Liu, 2010, p. 334). Robert Butler, a well-known gerontologist, coined the term “ageism” citing that the discrimination and prejudice associated with this term is often based on the lack of a person’s experience with older people (Ferrini & Ferrini, 2013, p. 6). Ferrini and Ferrini (2013) refer to the strong influence that cultural beliefs and attitudes as well as a person’s current age influence the perception of aging (p. 6). Everywhere within society there are influences that encourage ageist attitudes such as media conveyances through movies, books, television, greeting cards, magazines and the Internet (Ferrini and Ferrini, 2013, p. 6). These negative connotations related to growing older begin to influence all people at a very young age and therefore impact their attitudes as they make career decisions. This has directly impacted the number of health care providers who specialize in geriatrics as well as the attitudes of those who do provide services for older adults. These false perceptions and negative attitudes are currently impacting the q...

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...6 in 2050” (Hooyman & Kiyak, 2012, p. 15). Comparatively, in 1900 the average life expectancy was 47 (Hooyman & Kiyak, 2012, p. 15). This is relevant with regards to ageism in that the need for trained health care professionals in the field of gerontology will be astounding, but because of the current perceptions of older adults there is a gross lack of these specialty providers. “It has been estimated that by 2030, 3.5 million formal health care providers-a 35 percent increase from current levels-will be needed just to maintain the current ratio of providers to the total population” (Ferrini & Ferrini, 2013, p, 15). The prediction is that all health care providers will spend at least 50 percent of their time working with older adults; increased competency while eliminating ageist attitudes is paramount for quality health care (Ferrini & Ferrini, 2013, p. 15).

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