Maybe you called forgetting your keys a “senior moment.” Maybe the doctor told you about your mom’s medication, even though she was sitting right there. Maybe your friend commented, “She looks good…for her age.”
These common quips are far from harmless and instead serve as constant reminders of the everyday ageism we’ve all come to expect in today’s society. KFF’s Kaiser Health News and The John A. Hartford Foundation seek to raise awareness of this important topic with a 90-minute interactive digital event called “Confronting Ageism in Health Care: A Conversation for Patients, Caregivers and Clinicians.”
Held at noon EST on Oct. 21, the event promises “a frank, practical and empowering conversation about this pervasive, systemic problem of bias, discrimination or stereotyping based on age.”
The COVID pandemic put this pervasive ageism in sharp relief—from memes calling the virus the “Boomer Remover” to comments from Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that implied the lives of older adults were expendable in sacrifice to the economy. And a recent American Bar Association report predicts a deluge of lawsuits related to age discrimination as a result of layoffs and firings because of the pandemic.
Yet, the issue is not widely recognized as a problem, writes Helen Dennis in the Los Angeles Daily News:
“Ageism is subtle … It often is so subtle that we don’t notice it because ageism is still considered socially acceptable. Compared to racism and sexism, it is the last ‘ism’ people accept as normal.”
The Oct. 21 event helps to change public perception, and will invite a number of high-profile panelists to discuss ageism, especially as it relates to health care. The panel of experts will include:
- Dr. Louise Aronson – geriatrician, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and author of “Elderhood”
- Dr. Michael Wasserman – geriatrician, leader of the public policy committee of the California Association of Long Term Care Medicine
- Dr. Javette Orgain – family physician, medical director for Longevity Health Plan of Illinois, former president of the National Medical Association, former dean of University of Illinois College of Medicine Urban Health Program
- Dr. Rebecca Elon – geriatrician, current caregiver
- Jess Mauer – lawyer, executive director of the Maine Council on Aging
Learn more about the Kaiser Family Foundation or register for the event.