Are doctors really not motivated enough to treat seriously ill patients older than 70 years old?
There are different models and approaches of decision-making in recognizing and curing disease. The first and traditional biomedical model is the single-cause/single-cure model. It has long been a root for medical researches and education. In this model, the physician becomes a truth-seeker; he identifies a single cause and diagnoses a cure, and it is crucial not to deviate from the right path. Since the physician is the authority, he must take the responsibility of finding the best treatment.
The other biomedical model is known as the usual model in which different symptoms, signs, and factors are considered and examined to give a cause of the disease. In this model, the physician finds many factors; he also knows that different patients respond differently to the same situation. Therefore, one single treatment may not work on many people. Based on his knowledge and experience, the physician arrives at a specific diagnosis and chooses the proper treatment.
The fact is that diagnosis and treatment are not easy, and they require consideration and flexibility; some experienced doctors are like, “there is a possibility of disease A, B, C and so on. And the treatment may be D, E, F.” However, some typical doctors ignore such 1 in 100 possibilities and rely more on extensive experiences. In this way, they sound more trustable. The studies have shown no significant difference between these results and those gained through careful analysis of those experienced doctors.
Some physicians are reluctant to treat older adults dealing with suicidal thoughts and tendencies than younger people with the same problems. My grandpa was fighting depression in his last years because of my grandma’s passing away, and we tried so many therapists and physicians to find someone who does something.
Some physicians assume that being depressed and having suicidal thoughts when you’re older is normal and logical. Hence, they are reluctant to use some strategies in older people’s treatment.
As you possibly know, ageism is the most tolerated discrimination worldwide and in Canada. The signs of ageism and ageist behaviors can be seen everywhere and in everyone. It’s so obvious that sometimes it may consider as “normal,” so no one can really notice it. Anyways, the health care service is not an exception. The health care system could be the most ageist public service in most countries. Sometimes you may see or notice some ageist behaviors from doctors, specialists, nurses, or anyone else in the medical services. So does it mean they’re all ageists? Do they refuse to cure older adults?
Of course not! That doesn’t mean they are doing it on purpose, or they just don’t like you! The fact is they’re doing their duty. Believe me, no doctor on the earth cares less about older adults’ health and doesn’t want to save their life, so throw this conspiracy theory away. Where is the problem then, you may ask? The answer is the health care attitude toward older adults! The health care and medical system tends to normalize the health concerns of older adults. This attitude shows that some health issues are typical at certain ages. From this point of view, some illnesses in older adults are not so essential to treat like they are in younger people. However, it’s a totally wrong theory. Still, it’s so common in the medical system, and that’s why some older adults feel like doctors may not be so motivated to treat them like they do for younger patients.
I don’t think that has anything to do with the “older than 70 years old” part as much as the “seriously ill” part. As a doctor, sometimes you have to accept the fact that from a certain point on, any practice and medication, and trial might prove ineffective, and it might only cause more suffering in the patient. I don’t think doctors give up on treating patients until they have done everything they can. Or at least, I’d like to think so because it is both morally and professionally unacceptable to give up without exploring every possible option. In the end, it all comes down to the health condition of the patient, not their age. The reality is not all patients are lucky, and that is a part of life.