Demographic factors intensify pressure on the healthcare system and demand new directions in healthcare provision. These factors include the variations in age, gender, income, race, and many more. Since healthcare providers such nurses are likely to treat patients of different ages, gender, income and race, it is required that they be mindful of their language (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). For example, I discovered that some words and questions may sound offensive to individuals from one age group or race and alright to others. I have learned that it is crucial to be mindful of what I say when attending to the elderly population. In addition, as a healthcare provider, I must be mindful of the different cultures and listen to the elderly during care. Therefore, a person’s age, race and other demographic factors impact nursing practice and the type of treatment they receive.
The Impact of the Experiences On My Nursing Practice
Nursing practice experiences mentioned in the discussion demand a culturally competent healthcare services as the population becomes more diverse. According to Abrishami (2018), cultural competency is described as the ability of physicians and facilities to efficiently administer health care services that achieve patients’ cultural needs. I discovered that culturally competency among nurses could help improve health outcomes and service quality and eliminate racial and ethnic inequities in health. As a result, adopting rules that remove administrative and cultural barriers to patient treatment and offering significant training on cultural competency and cross-cultural issues to health workers helped increase quality care.
Working in a diverse setting is extremely difficult, especially for professionals who have not received cultural diversity training. Cultural variations, for example, can have an impact on people’s perceptions of health (Abrishami, 2018). Patients may have a different concept of health that does not correspond to healthcare providers’ understanding of healthcare. Communication styles also differ from one age group to another. A provider’s approach to young patients differs from older patients. As a result, different techniques may be required to manage elderly patients effectively. When compared to patients from medium and high-income families, people in low-income communities have a distinct understanding of health. When communicating with patients, gender matters as well. Some healthcare providers may feel more at ease evaluating patients of a particular gender.
The elderly population are supposed to be handled with dignity. Previously, they were being viewed as the pinnacle of knowledge and believed to instill life values in the younger generation. However, things have changed through time, and there are instances where the elderly are looked down upon (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). They are more of a liability than an asset in contemporary society. I believe there is a need to prioritize the well-being of the elderly and respect their age. They are still entitled to be respected and cared for at a family and society level. In the event of a misunderstanding, a healthcare provider is supposed to attentively listen to the elderly’s views and understand what they say. Nurses are tasked with connecting the elderly to culturally specific services. Therefore, healthcare providers are better positioned to influence societal change regarding how older adults are treated.
Bias and discrimination can have a negative impact on the performance of a healthcare provider. It can exist in healthcare at both the interpersonal and institutional levels. For example, an elderly patient may look down upon a young healthcare provider and question their qualification to provide effective services. Bias can result in an individual providing poor healthcare services, having incorrect diagnoses, or enduring diagnostic delays. It can also cause stress, which can exacerbate health problems. In addition, healthcare providers are likely to feel uncomfortable and not valued when patients discriminate against them based on age, race and other factors. Therefore, the existence of bias and discrimination on providers have an adverse impact on the delivery of quality care.
Ageing Biases I Have Witnessed
In the contemporary workplace, ageing biases are a normal occurrence. In my practice, I have seen a lot of ageing biases, especially in the area of communication. Biased ideas and perceptions are frequently in the conversation between doctors and patients (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). For example, some of the nurses are more likely to engage younger people for a conversation than older persons. While the causes of this phenomenon are unknown, it is evident that some nurses do not involve elderly people as much as they could in clinical decisions because they feel older people are culturally oriented. They also have a perception that the elderly dislike modern healthcare processes. In addition, some of the healthcare providers believe that older people are difficult to communicate with during care.
In my practice, I have also witnessed ageism biases when elderly patients are judged based on their perceptions about others. For example, many physicians blame forgetfulness on the age of an individual. While it is true that old age can create cognitive problems, it is also true that younger people might forget (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). When delivering medication to older individuals, nurses in my field highlight the element of forgetfulness in my experience. Prescriptions are gradually explained, and the importance of drug adherence is emphasized. On the other hand, prescriptions for younger patients are practically randomly written. As a result, younger patients are assumed to grasp things fast, whereas older ones must be told carefully and slowly.
Moreover, I have experienced incidents when some nurses avoid attending to an elderly patient. There is a perception that elderly patients are frail and helpless. Due to aging issues, older people are believed to have different health problems that render them weak and demand adequate care (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). For example, some may have problem walking, seeing, hearing, and other healthcare conditions. They are also viewed as a burden to society and healthcare organizations because of the increasing demand for the healthcare services. Based on this, some healthcare providers have developed a negative attitude towards older people. Therefore, when older patients seek healthcare services, they receive little attention.
Community Education Plan to Address Aging Bias
Aging bias have serious consequences for people’s health and well-being. It reduces an individual’s ability to receive quality care in a healthcare setting. A good example is an assumption that all older adults become confused and forgetful when a brain tumor may be the real problem (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). Based on this, there is a need to address aging bias in the community to promote quality care. The first thing to do is create a task force to spearhead the process. The task force should consist of people from health care settings and community members. They should have appropriate knowledge on addressing social problems. In addition, the task force should demonstrate an understanding of the problem. As a result, having the right team to educate the community is integral for its success.
The second strategy is to create awareness about healthy living and elegant aging. The fact that there are so many unpleasant understanding of old age is one of the reasons people adopt ageist attitudes. In addition, it is important to change the perception that elder people are troublesome (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). To deconstruct negative views, it is crucial to talk about the benefits of the elderly in the community. For example, one can talk of the elderly being knowledgeable and that they can benefit the younger generation. The community should also be informed that older people are likely to have the energy to do their tasks with a healthy lifestyle. It will assist older people in aging more gracefully, which will help to modify the present perception of old age. As a result, mentioning the benefits of the elderly are likely to solve the issue of biases among the elderly.
The other way to counter ageism is to establish a community-wide aid program for the elderly. People of all ages and professions will be in charge of the program, including social workers, physicians, nurses, and government officials (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). The program aims to help older individuals age gracefully, improving their independence and social importance. The program, for example, will establish community resources for the elderly and aid in the construction of infrastructure that will bring comfort to them. Housing programs, for example, must be developed with the elderly in mind. Assisted living technologies must also be obtained to help older people live more easily. Therefore, helping the elderly will show the community that it is important to care for older people.
There will also be a need to bring together all stakeholders such as educators, healthcare providers, community leaders and parents. Parents are supposed to engage their children and inform them of the need to respect the elderly (Ayalon & Tesch-Römer, 2018). With this knowledge, the children are more likely to grow with an understanding that elders are important people. Educators need to be engaged to educate the children on the need to respect the elderly. In learning institutions, older people should be invited to educate people about their culture, especially young people. In addition, community leaders are supposed to be motivated to hold social meetings where young people and adults are informed of the need to value the elderly.
Ageism is one of the key aspects that affect nursing practice because it adversely impacts the delivery of quality care. The confluence of aging and ethnic diversity introduces new problems to healthcare delivery. In my practice, I have witnessed various ageing prejudice. I have seen some healthcare providers being reluctant at providing healthcare to the elderly due to a perception that they are difficult to deal with. Such bias impairs nursing care delivery and often goes unreported by the perpetrator. As a result of this observation, nursing staff should be aware of ageing bias and its consequences for care at all times. To overcome ageing bias properly, I advocate an education campaign that targets multiple sectors of society.
Abrishami, D. (2018). The need for cultural competency in health care. Radiologic Technology, 89(5), 441-448.
Ayalon, L., & Tesch-Römer, C. (2018). Contemporary perspectives on ageism. Springer Nature.