Ageing Bias

In today’s world, diversity has gained a completely new dimension with regard to meaning and purpose. Nurses who are the primary health care providers often encounter patients of diverse backgrounds. This diversity may regard primary factors such as age, gender and race, secondary factors such as level of education religion and language, and cultural factors. Diverse patients often have different perceptions regarding healthcare and as well command a certain level of attention by the health care providers. Quality health care delivery is dependent on the relationship that emanates from health and culture. Culture is particularly known to have a great influence on health and beliefs. Nurses are therefore required to be conscious about all these differences that result from diversity in order to deliver health care that takes into account the values, lifestyle and the beliefs of patients.

The ageing biases and the general diversities have had a great impact on the nursing practices. In order to ensure quality health care that recognizes all patients’ diversities various aspects have been adopted and older ones modified.  Firstly, the management of older persons has been moderated. Older person have been pointed out as among the great consumers of health care and that their healthcare services should be more integrated. With advanced age, more chronic and complex conditions set in which calls for more specialized care. For a long time, handling older persons had been considered to cause negative attitudes among geriatric nurses following the great dependence and stubbornness that they present with (Levy, 2003). The discussion post however provided a greater insight in handling older patients and therefore the adoption of better geriatric management. For instance, the nursing practice rendered to geriatrics has been integrated to meet all patient’s needs.

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Another impact on nursing practice that has resulted from the discussion post is sensitivity to diversity in delivering health care.  The discussion pointed out that embracing diversity is a key component in achieving positive health outcomes (Kornadt & Rothermund, 2011). In the nursing practices, diversity entails understanding differences and according respect to all patients regardless of the differences. In doing so, equality as well as integration is achieved. As a nurse, I am now compelled to handle each patient differently. These patient diversities often result in very unique environments of work which calls for different approach. I have learnt on various cultures, what they perceive ethical and what they discourage. This has enhanced compliance towards medication and overall health care delivery. Understanding different cultures helps in understanding how to deal with varied personalities as well as the differences in age, race and financial status.

Ageing bias points out to managing a patient based on their age rather than their physical condition which in most times may lead to under treatment or overtreatment. It may take the form of stereotypes, prejudices or discrimination. There are many ageing biases within the health systems some of which I have witnessed. One of the ageing biases is the stereotype that the elderly are dependent, frail and that they have a mental limitation (Levy, 2003). This negative stereotype often elicits negative attitudes by some nurses and other health care providers. Such attitudes often make the elderly feel as if they are a big burden to people and that they are of less value in the society a situation which places them at risk of developing depression. When depression or isolation sets in the older persons who may be battling other chronic conditions, their stay within the hospital is often prolonged and the possibility of negative outcomes arises.

Another ageing bias is the old age prejudice which often elicits emotions towards the older persons. Pity is highly common. Pity is mainly a response that people develop when they perceive someone as being helpless or whose life circumstances are limited (Kornadt & Rothermund, 2011). Pity in such a situation is not helpful as it also contributes towards self-pity which may worsen the medical situation. The discrimination that old workers go through is also another form of ageing bias. Older persons are deemed as physically incompetent and of diminished mental capacity which propagates the discrimination (Levy, 2003). Older workers are even compelled to retire at a given age regardless of their abilities to perform their duties. A positive stereotype on older persons that translates to ageing bias also exist. The older persons are deemed as perfect grandparents unlike them that achieve the title at mid age.

A successful community education plan that is meant to address ageing bias is one that addresses problems related with old age. It also takes into account all concerned individuals including caregivers and the entire family. It also takes into consideration activities that are best approached from the community level. One of the issues to be addressed in the education plan is physical activity (Kornadt & Rothermund, 2011). The plan should focus on physical activities that are fit for the elderly as a way of reducing the health risk that physical inactivity poses. Geriatric nutrition should also be a component of the education plan. The elderly require a more individualized diet to help achieve the required dietary intake. Most of the elderly and their caregivers lack this knowledge and it is therefore necessary to educate them. Health responsibility is another aspect to include in the plan. Old age is accompanied by susceptibility to many conditions which may go unnoticed (Kornadt & Rothermund, 2011). Routine clinics and medical check-ups are usually important in the older persons and thus should be emphasized in every education plan.

The community education plan should also emphasize on interpersonal relationships. The larger community should be enlightened on how to deal with the elderly persons. For instance, the negative stereotypes regarding the elderly persons should be discouraged. Portraying the elderly as dependent or frail may induce depression and isolation which is of great medical concern. Admiration of the elderly persons rather than pity has positive outcomes as they develop a sense of belonging in the society (Kornadt & Rothermund, 2011). The community also ought to be sensitized on dealing with memory loss in the elderly. Activities such as listening to music and letting the elderly respond to it is a great attempt towards dealing with dementia.

Ageing bias often happen in different ways. It may occur in the form of stereotypes, prejudices or discrimination. This bias may either be positive or negative although the negative ageing bias outweighs the positive. Ageing bias is particularly important in the health care systems since it affects the quality of health care service accorded to the older persons. The nursing team, which comprises the primary health care providers need to pay attention to all forms of ageing bias and address them in order to avoid the negative attitudes associated with this bias. Another way to help in addressing ageing bias is through creating community education plans which primarily aim at addressing the problems associated with old age. 



Clark, M. J. (2015). Population and community health nursing. Pearson.

Kornadt, A. E., & Rothermund, K. (2011). Contexts of aging: Assessing evaluative age stereotypes in different life domains. Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 66(5), 547-556.

Levy, B. R. (2003). Mind matters: Cognitive and physical effects of aging self-stereotypes. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 58(4), P203-P211.

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