“In Ventura, California, a woman who is social isolating greets a little boy who has come to visit. – Getty Images / Brent Stirton”
by Paul Nash and Philip W. Schnarrs
“People over 65 years old account for about 80% of the deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. But we have to consider comorbidity, not just the number of years lived. Older people more likely live with underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, diabetes and cancer. It is these complications, not just age, that dictate the mortality of COVID-19.
“Yet the misperception persists that older adults are frail and weak. As educators in the field of health and gerontology, we can tell you research shows that ageist attitudes harm the health of older adults. Indeed, the World Health Organization acknowledges ageism as the last socially accepted form of prejudice. And this impacts the kind of care they receive and the health care outcomes they experience.
“In the U.S., these perceptions are reinforced in medical training; geriatric care doesn’t even appear on the list of required training for doctors. This approach may have contributed to the U.S.‘s arguably poor response to COVID-19.”
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