Are Over-50s Receiving Substandard Healthcare?

One In Ten Elderly People Feel They Are Discriminated Against By Healthcare Providers

09.10.2013

A sizeable number of elderly Britons feel that healthcare providers discriminate against them because of their age.

New research published in the journal Age and Ageing has shown ten per cent of the 7,500 people who took part in the survey believe they receive substandard levels of medical care.

Isla Rippon from University College London was the lead author of the report and she told Reuters Health that people over the age of 65 are getting a particularly raw deal.

The study indicated one-third of the nation's over-50s have experienced age discrimination in some way - not just in the medical sector.

This, Ms Rippon insisted, can cause people to develop serious health issues.

"Perceived day-to-day discrimination can affect both physical and mental health," she was quoted as saying, before adding that many people who are unfairly treated can become socially excluded and dangerously stressed.

"Of particular concern were the ten per cent of all respondents who felt that they had been discriminated (against) due to their age in health settings. This provides further evidence for the existence of ageism in healthcare," Ms Rippon continued.

Wim van den Heuvel - professor of care science at the University of Groningen - told the news provider that for most elderly members of society who live independently, the effect of age discrimination will be indirect.

He agreed with Ms Rippon by suggesting people who are treated poorly by healthcare specialists can quite easily fall into depression.

With budgets being stretched to the limit, healthcare providers have had little choice but to make cutbacks in the last few years, but these study results should reinforce the message that elderly people must not be treated differently because of their age.

This type of discrimination is not a problem that is exclusive to the UK, as Liat Ayalon of the Bar-Ilan University School of Social Work in Ramat-Gan, Israel told Reuters Health that around one-third of people across Europe think they are treated differently to their younger counterparts.

Expert Opinion
We see numerous cases in which vulnerable elderly people have suffered as a result of healthcare providers failing to meet recognised standards, observing first-hand the trauma this has not only on victims but on families who expect their loved ones will receive quality care.

“All patients, regardless of their age, should be given the best possible standard of support in tackling and overcoming conditions. Discrimination is simply unacceptable and we hope that this research leads to further consideration as to how steps can be taken to tackle this awful issue.

“Lessons need to be learned to ensure that people are able to access quality support as and when they need it, regardless of how old they are.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner