Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ageism pervades our healthcare system and prevents older people from receiving optimal healthcare - Brady

31 March, 2008

Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MLA Mickey Brady commenting on the announcement by the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey of the composition of a panel which is to investigate services for patients with acquired brain injuries has said that it is essential that the provision of and access to services for older people be part of the consultation.

The MLA said that the perception of older people as frail, dependent, and isolated 'may be a self-fulfilling prophecy'.

Mr Brady said:

"Ageism pervades our healthcare system and prevents older people from receiving optimal healthcare. This in turn leads to their increased dependence on family and public resources, increased disability and mortality, and depression and isolation. This is completely unacceptable. I like many believe that the saying an ounce of prevention remains worth a pound of cure needs to be applied to our Health service."

"There seemed to be an assumption that serious medical conditions were simply an inevitable part of getting older. The truth is they are not. Known preventive treatments would go a long way in keeping older patients healthy and enhancing their quality of life.

"Once an elderly patient encounters a health problem, studies show that physicians often use the person's age, not his or her functional status, as a factor in determining the appropriate treatment. Clearly the ageist bias has infiltrated our Health Service and affected treatment decisions inappropriately. But can't older patients speak up and demand better treatment? Unfortunately, they too have fallen prey to the mistaken notion that their ill health is just a part of aging".

"Some months ago I had urged the Health Minister to take a lead role in ensuring that the issue of Ageism was tackled within the Health Service and he said that hoped that this latest panel which would be looking at the delivery of services for those suffering from brain injuries would ensure that those articulating the concerns of the aged sector would be consulted.

"More education is necessary across the board if Departments are going to provide their older patients with the proper care and older patients are going to take charge of their own health. People over 65 do not have to resign themselves to living their remaining years with a declining quality of life. Proper knowledge can extend lives and make them happier and healthier as well." ENDS

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