While the healthcare sector has to treat every patient in the same manner, the reality is far from these statements. Factors like race, gender, sexuality, and age have a determining effect on the quality and overall process of medical care. Thus, it can be argued that every person experiences healthcare differently. This essay will examine the influence of age on healthcare from a particular elderly patient’s perspective, as well as apply some modern research to the case findings.
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When interviewed, L. Bailey (2020, personal communication, October 18), a 67-year-old woman, responded that her age was a significant determinant of her hospital experience. The diagnosing doctor have taken specific consideration of her older age (L. Bailey, personal communication, October 18, 2020). For example, L. Bailey (personal communication, October 18, 2020) claimed that when being screened by the doctor for an initial diagnosis two months ago, he was more inclined to some conclusions over the others. More specifically, the symptoms she has experienced could have indicated a different diagnosis if she was younger; however, the medical expert quickly determined the diagnosis, common for her age group. L. Bailey (personal communication, October 18, 2020) shared that if it was not for her age, the medical system would not be as quick to react to her symptoms. Lynge et al. (2017) confirm these assumptions by highlighting the presence of the screening policy that obliges doctors to pay specific attention to particular diseases when treating an older age group. Thus, it can be argued that older stage-of-life patients are treated with more caution due to policymaking.
Furthermore, when asked about the hospital or clinic areas that were most concerned with her well-being and feelings, the interviewee stated that both doctors and nurses were equally helpful. As a patient diagnosed with cervical cancer at a very early stage, Bailey had to undergo surgical intervention to minimize the risks. During the prolonged hospital stay, L. Bailey (personal communication, October 18, 2020) reported that the nurses dedicated more attention to her than younger patients by initiating conversations and facilitating more painless drug administration. This observation can be explained by the finding of Sundström et al. (2018), who found that medical professionals often perceive older patients as more likely to experience existential loneliness and psychological crisis. Thus, they are more inclined to dedicate time and effort to mentally support patients of this age group.
When being in a hospital as part of the post-surgery recovery process, the interviewee was visited by close family and friends frequently, around one time per day. She claimed that this factor is hardly relevant to her stage-of-life (L. Bailey, personal communication, October 18, 2020). However, Sakanashi and Fujita (2017) find that “positive control of one’s mind and body and cultivating a positive attitude” is one of the driving motivators for family involvement in treatment of the elderly (p. 2). Thus, it can be argued that the older the relative is, the more involved the family caregivers are in the medical process.
As it concerns the family inclusion into treatment and post-procedure instructions, the person interviewed for the research stated that their relatives were more involved in her post-surgery treatment than she was. This factor can be regarded as a direct effect of her stage-of-life since family members often overtake the caregiving functions over the older patient rather than an adult (Sakanashi & Fujita, 2017). Consequently, the doctors are more inclined to give care instructions to the family members rather than the elderly patient.
In conclusion, it can be argued that age and one’s stage-of-life play a significant role in the healthcare experience. As the case study of an older woman diagnosed with early cervical cancer showed, the medical staff, specifically nurses, are more likely to perceive the elderly as more vulnerable and in need of psychological support. From the family side, elderly patients also receive more attention since relatives think that people of older age are incapable of caring for themselves adequately and thus take charge of the task.
Lynge, E., Lönnbergb, S., & Törnbergc, S. (2017). Cervical cancer incidence in elderly women: Biology or screening history? European Journal of Cancer, 74(1), 82-88. Web.
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Sakanashi, S., & Fujita, K. (2017). Empowerment of family caregivers of adults and elderly persons: A concept analysis. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 23(5), 1-9. Web.
Sundström, M., Edberg, A., Rämgård, M., & Blomqvist, K. (2018). Encountering existential loneliness among older people: Perspectives of health care professionals. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 13(1), 1634-1642. Web.