My father, Carmelo, waits for his surgery in a hospital bed in Florida.
It’s been a humbling week. I think I learned a few things.
- Dad’s internalized ageism prevents him from getting hearing aids.
- He says three audiologists are wrong, he does not need hearing aids.
- He can barely hear what doctors say to him.
- I believe he has not heard what doctors have been telling him for months. And now, we barely averted a crisis.
Internalized ageism is the reason people don’t buy hearing aids, order rides with GoGoGrandparent, attend fall-reduction workshops or hire home health aides.
Eliminating ageism is important to me because internalized ageism makes our lives worse. Internalized ageism causes people to resist helpful products and services because “help is for old people.”
For my dad, the stigma of “old” is worse than being excluded from conversations, worse than not being able to hear his grandchildren.
Ageism is rampant in healthcare too. There are 58,000 pediatricians in the US, but only 7,500 geriatricians.
How many unaddressed – and solvable – health problems are due to this one disparity – 58,000 to 7,500? For my father, there are doctors and surgeons, but no geriatrician. This disparity is not new. I read decades-old literature on aging, and this problem has persisted.
Maybe we can’t get 50,000 more geriatricians, but fighting ageism would be a good legacy for us Gen Xers.
Thanks for reading,