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By Karen Casanovas
For Senior Voice 

Creating a better doctor-patient experience

 

May 1, 2024 | View PDF



Q: When I see the doctor, I give them my symptoms over and over, but they are dismissive of my pains and concerns. What can I do?

A: As adults age, it is crucial to take control of one’s health and wellness. By being consistent about preventive care, prioritizing medical issues, and actively engaging with healthcare providers to avoid ageism, one can optimize outcomes and quality of life.

Prioritize healthcare

First, stay informed about age-related health concerns, medications and treatment options. Do your part to get preventive tests and vaccinations which are essential to manage chronic conditions, and detect potential health issues early. Schedule regular check-ups including screenings for high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, bone density and cancer. Get annual prostate, mammograms, dental exams, a dermatology body scan and colonoscopies as appropriate for age, past medical history and family risk.

Engaging communication

Effective communication between healthcare providers and patients is essential for accurate diagnosis and treatment. However, when patients feel that healthcare providers are not listening to them when communicating symptoms, this can lead to misunderstandings, misdiagnosis, and inadequate treatment. It is important for older adults to ask questions, seek second opinions, and advocate for themselves when making healthcare decisions. This ensures appropriate care is being rendered that aligns with client preferences.

In today's fast-paced healthcare environment, providers may feel pressured to see a high volume of patients in a short amount of time. This can lead to rushed interactions and a lack of attention to individual concerns. One successful communication intervention is implementation of patient-centered care models prioritizing active listening during consultations allowing sufficient time for each person. By adopting a patient-centered approach, healthcare providers better understand a patient’s unique needs, preferences and goals while building a trusted partnership, improving communication, and enhancing outcomes.

Preventing ageism

Ageism in healthcare is a prevalent issue that affects the quality of care that older adults receive. Ageism refers to discrimination and prejudice against individuals based on their age. Patients must persistently request unbiased care. Overcoming ageism in medical settings is crucial to ensure that older adults receive equitable and respectful treatment.

Fair medical attention requires a multi-faceted approach that involves changing attitudes, implementing policies, and providing training for healthcare professionals. By promoting age-friendly practices and fostering a culture of respect for older adults, healthcare organizations can improve the quality of care for advanced-age patients and negate stereotypes and discrimination that adults face when seeking medical therapies.

Successful examples

One way to overcome ageism is through education and instruction on age-related issues. When a better understanding of the unique needs and challenges faced by aging adults is obtained, it can dispel stereotypes and biases that contribute to ageism.

Additionally, healthcare organizations can write guidelines that promote age-friendly practices. This may include implementing age-specific screening tools, creating age-friendly environments, and ensuring that all patients are treated with courtesy and respect. By adopting age-friendly policies, businesses create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for older adults.

Furthermore, raising awareness about ageism in healthcare is crucial to combating this issue. By educating the public about the negative impact of ageism on older adults' health and well-being, everyone can work toward creating a more age-friendly society. This may involve campaigns, workshops and advocacy efforts to promote value and equality for older adults in all settings.

Another example of a successful strategy to overcome ageism in healthcare is the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, developed by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. This program aims to improve care for older adults by focusing on the "4Ms" of: What Matters, Medication, Mentation, and Mobility. By implementing this framework, healthcare organizations can provide more holistic and person-centered care for older patients. Visit https://www.johnahartford.org to learn more.

Providers, individuals working together

For providers: Overcoming ageism in healthcare is essential to ensure that older adults receive equitable and attentive treatment. By addressing ageism through education, policy changes, and awareness-raising efforts, we create inclusive and age-friendly systems. By promoting age-appropriate practices and fostering a culture of respect for older adults, we can work toward eliminating ageism in medical environments and improving the quality of care for older patients.

For individuals: By taking an active role with healthcare providers, patients can receive essential, personalized care, and make informed decisions about their health. Establishing open and honest communication with medical teams, sharing specific health concerns and goals, and actively participating in treatment plans builds a collaborative relationship. Older adults can then ensure the necessary support is received for maintaining optimal health and well-being.

Karen Casanovas, PCC, CPCC, CLIPP is a health and wellness professional coach practicing in Anchorage. If you have questions write to her at info@karencasanovas.com.

 
 

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