Here is an excerpt from an article looking at the significance of names. This has often struck me as interesting, especially when I run across an interesting name of a Senior, such as Nelda, Archie or Moses.
A name is, after all, perhaps the most important identifier of a person. Most decisions are made in about three to four seconds of meeting someone, and this “thin-slicing” is surprisingly accurate. Something as packed full of clues as a name tends to lead to all sorts of assumptions and expectations about a person, often before any face-to-face interaction has taken place. A first name can imply race, age, socioeconomic status, and sometimes religion, so it’s an easy—or lazy—way to judge someone’s background, character, and intelligence.
So I am trying to be more aware of how I make judgments based on a name. While sometimes the name fits like a glove, its useful to wait until each new acquaintance has a chance to express their unique personality.
I was confronted with a difficult realization today when talking with a co-worker. We were working with an older couple, the wife has Alzheimer’s dementia and he is her very devoted caregiver. My Coworker and I discussed the husband’s reluctance to provide needed information to access services. She pointed out to me that they were African Americans from the deep South and may be fearful of outsiders, based on past experiences with systematic racism. I then realized that so many old wounds are being opened with the recent public demonstrations of white supremacy/white nationalism. Older people are reliving the racism of the past.
Here is a great article with information we can all use. You don’t need to be a full time activist, but all of us ordinary people need to DO SOMETHING!
In this article, Gawande describes a different way to look at treatment of chronic health issues. The approach is based on slow and steady progress and the realization that complete cure is unlikely and that progress can be slow and incremental. There is rarely an immediate remedy and expectations are lowered. Doctors partner with patients to measure the problem and work through plans of escalating remedies. It involves continual measuring and adjusting. Medical practice can at times convey an “aura of heroism”, like a surgeon operating just in time to save a life. Data, however, shows that Primary Care (opposite of a specialist) is the area of medicine that has the greatest impact, including lower medical costs.
This approach emphasizes the importance of prevention and maintenance of health, as well as coordination among specialists for problems that have already been diagnosed.
Perhaps this approach resonates because I grew up in a household with a dad who specialized in Internal Medicine, who I believe practiced this type of medicine. He seemed to know his patients as individuals, many who were fiercely loyal.
I have also seen this approach work well in my 20 years working in the PACE model. This model sets up long term relationships between interdisciplinary health care professionals and individuals with multiple chronic health issues.
An incremental approach also would address the rapidly rising costs of health care.
It is also related to wellness, defined asis an approach to health care that promotes the prevention of illness rather than treatment of disease, or health as an actively pursued deliberate effort.
It definitely is a challenge however, because it goes against the fast pace of rapidly developing technology. Perhaps that’s the point.
I was finding my way through a big hospital recently, following the purple diamonds on the floor to get to my destination. Every time I go there or any hospital, I am struck with how impersonal and institutional these settings are. The big business of health care takes precedence over the personal experience of people in the midst of a health crisis.
Many times I’ve see a person in a bed rolling past. The lack of dignity is remarkable.
I am reminded of my own experience with my Dad , a retired physician, when he was ill, walking along side his hospital bed when he was rolled to a CT scan. It was a helpless feeling and the CT scan wasn’t the answer for him or me.
We follow instructions because we trust it is for the best. However, there are some valuable perspectives that challenge our blind faith in health care. I plan to share some of these ideas in future posts.
I read an article published by Next Avenue for Older Americans Month in May that talks about the need to establish the shared value of healthy aging. It is never too late to address the importance of exercise, nutrition and social engagement.
Also, it is important to have a good understanding of what parts of the aging process are normal and what are some common myths. There are two myths specifically to look at-changes in memory and mental health.
When are memory problems part of normal aging and when should others start to worry? A little bit of forgetfulness comes with age related changes to the brain. Alzheimer’s or dementia is not normal aging. If you see confusion, personality changes and disorientation over a period of time, you can ask for a memory workup. There are specific things to rule out that can mimic dementia that are reversible. It is important to try to get a specific diagnosis for dementia because it may help to know the course of the illness and it can allow time to plan for the future.
People experience grief and sadness as normal reactions to losses associated with aging. When do you know if an older adult is in need of extra psychological or psychiatric help? If you see a person isolating themselves and expressing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness more than a year following a loss, you can pursue a psychiatric evaluation. There are treatments for depression and also a medical doctor can rule out other causes.
I picked these two areas in particular because in my experience, they are the most often misunderstood aspects of aging. Society in general, including some in the medical field tend to not address changes in memory or changes in emotional wellbeing, often attributing these changes falsely to the aging process.
While I am a social worker not a medical professional, I have met many older adults taking 5 or 6 or 7 different medications on a daily basis. There are risks and side effects and interactions that come along with polypharmacy. Doctors may not catch these things without patients stopping to ask.
All older adults deserve to optimize everything they can to live a full life! #ageoutloud #oam17