Myth: Doctors Treat People of All Ages, Equally

Warning: Please read this myth without holding a liquid in your hand (or mouth!) as spillage is
likely to occur.

Almost every person with a few gray hairs who meets with a younger health practitioner has
felt the indignity of this myth. Even further distressing, women are victims of even more severe
ageism than men, but older men aren’t immune to dismissive treatment by many health care
professionals either. The compiled research in 2021 reconfirming this sad state would crest Mt.
Kilimanjaro. Even sadder, younger doctors who practice this kind of ageism have ZERO idea
they are doing it. Their ingrained prejudice, rooted in childhood, is rarely addressed by most
medical schools. These are good people, dedicated to helping their patients, yet…

It becomes our job as models for a new worldview of older adults to drop the scales from their
eyes, as the saying goes, and help younger people see the world with clearer vision. How do we
do that? It’s difficult, but humor is one way, as suggested by Dr. Julie Allen at the University of
Oklahoma. Here is an antidote from her article in The Gerontological Society of America Journal,
“Ageism as a Risk Factor for Chronic Disease.”

An older man goes to see a (younger) doctor for knee pain:

Doctor says, ‘You should expect this. You are getting older.’

The man replies, ‘My other knee is just as old, but it does not hurt.’”

This example might serve as just the nudge those scales need to loosen and fall. Well,
hopefully, at least loosen…

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