Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Ageism still a major issue for older people

2 July, 2008 - by Mickey Brady


Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Elderly Mickey Brady has said that Elderly people are still being denied NHS treatment, credit cards, travel insurance, and even car hire because of their age and the perception of older people as frail, dependent, and isolated 'may be a self-fulfilling prophecy'.

Mr Brady said:

"The issue of Ageism is still a major concern for most elderly people.

"Older people are still experiencing prejudice and unfairness in many areas of their lives. They are still being denied NHS treatment, credit cards, travel insurance, and even car hire because of their age.

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

"In particular 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 seems 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."

Mickey said that in his discussions and meetings with older people and their dependents, it was very clear of that most believed older people were treated worse than the general population, highlighting a widespread concern that people are increasingly discriminated against, as they got older.

He explained:

"Many of our ageing population feel that they are not getting a good deal from employers, services or government. 50-59 year-olds are particularly feeling the squeeze - society expects a lot from them as carers, parents and earners, but they don't feel that they are getting the support they need. It is hugely important that not only do we outlaw and tackle ageism, but that we support research, advocacy and projects aimed at improving the quality of life for older people." ENDS

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