Aging Options

LIMITED TIME OFFER: First Academy Lesson is Free

It’s Time for Doctors to Stop Treating All Seniors the Same

Save as PDF

If you’ve listened to our AgingOptions radio program or attended any of our LifePlanning Seminars, you’ve heard us sing the praises of geriatricians – those physicians specially trained to understand and deal appropriately with the unique and varied health care needs of seniors. It has been our experience that only someone with proper training knows how to listen and to patiently diagnose the physical, emotional, and psychological ailments that can be part of growing older. Sadly, it’s a skill too many health care providers appear to lack.

Now we have found another corroborating source to back up our point of view: this article that appeared very recently on the aging-related website NextAvenue.  It’s called “Why Doctors Shouldn’t Treat All Older People the Same.” The article cites a recent New York Times column that pointed out a significant shortcoming in how doctors treat seniors. “Health care systems have very distinct doctors and procedures for treating children vs. adults,” says NextAvenue. “But the division often stops there.”  In traditional health care, anyone over age 65 is lumped into one category called “geriatric,” a one-size-fits-all label that fails to take into account what the article calls “the vast differences between those in their late 60s or 70s and those in their 80s or 90s.”

In the Times column (here’s the link), a California professor of medicine named Dr. Louise Aronson argues that the health needs of older adults are “much more nuanced” than the medical community likes to admit. Aronson cites as one prime example the guidelines for vaccinations that are provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   The CDC has more than a dozen subgroupings of vaccine recommendations for children, and five for adults. But everyone 65 and older ends up tossed into one single vaccine subgroup. “That means,” says the NextAvenue article, “that a 65- or 70-year-old is viewed essentially interchangeable health-wise with someone in their 80s or 90s. And this is regularly how older adults are seen through a medical lens.” But this stereotyping of all seniors into one medical subgroup is both inaccurate and potentially dangerous. “Those two groups — the ‘young old’ and the ‘old old’ — don’t just differ in how they look and spend their days; they also differ biologically,” Aronson writes. “As a result, it’s likely that we are incorrectly vaccinating a significant number of the 47 million Americans over 65.”

We looked at the New York Times column and were impressed by just how strongly Dr. Aronson feels about this problem of stereotyping older adults, something she calls “a larger failing in our health care system.”  She lambastes the medical establishment who sees no difference between a 65 year old and a 90 year old: they’re acting “as if bodies and behaviors don’t change over the last half-century of life. You don’t need to be a doctor to see that this is absurd. Just as we don’t confuse toddlers with teenagers, or young adults with their middle-age parents, so, too, are we able to distinguish 70-year-olds from the nonagenarians a generation ahead of them.”

In the Times piece, Dr. Aronson also laments the fact that seniors are poorly represented in medical studies. “The sad fact,” she writes, “is that we frequently don’t know how to best care for the old. Treatments rarely target older adults’ particular physiology, and the old are typically excluded from clinical studies.” This bias against older adults has multiple root causes. “Sometimes they are kept out based on age alone, but more often it’s because they have one of the diseases that typically accompany old age. And yet we still end up basing older people’s treatment on this research, because too often it is all we have.”

There are several glaring examples of problems with vaccines and other treatments cited in the New York Times and NextAvenue articles, and we encourage you to review them both for your own sake and for the health of those you love. In the Times, Dr. Aronson suggests two immediate and relatively simple steps that would help reduce the stereotyping of seniors. “First,” she writes, “whenever we apply something to people by age and are tempted to divide the life span into just childhood and adulthood, we should add oldhood to the list as well. Second, the National Institutes of Health should require that older adults be included in clinical studies, just as it already does for women and minorities.” We think these are both good ideas.

It was her final statement in the New York Times column, however, that really caused us to nod in agreement.  She writes that the time is long past for society to stop dividing life into two parts, “childhood” and “adulthood.” As Dr. Aronson put it, “Life is a three-act play. It’s time our medical system reflected that truth.”

Our number one goal here at AgingOptions is to see our clients, radio listeners and seminar guests enjoy their senior years – the third act of that three-act play – with good health, vitality, purpose, dignity and security. Getting the right medical care is a vital component of that kind of retirement, which is why we urge you to contact us so we can refer you to a geriatrician in your area. But there’s much more to what we call “LifePlanning” than just good medical care. Protecting your assets in retirement requires a sound financial plan. Avoiding unwanted institutional care means you’ll need to plan for your future housing need. You’ll also need solid legal protection to make certain your wishes are honored and your estate protected, and a plan to communicate all this to your family to they’ll be knowledgeable and supportive of your desires as you age. Only an AgingOptions LifePlan combines financial, medical, legal, housing and family plans into one master blueprint. We encourage you to find out more about this breakthrough approach to retirement planning by attending a free, no-obligation AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar with Rajiv Nagaich. It could be the most important two hours you’ve ever spent when it comes to planning your retirement future.

For dates, times, locations and quick online registration, click here for our Upcoming Events page, or call us for assistance during the week. We might not be able to reform the medical care system in the U.S. – but we can certainly help you be better prepared for whatever the future may bring your way. Age on!

(link to and

Need assistance planning for your successful retirement? Give us a call! 1.877.762.4464

Learn how 70% of retirement plan fails and find out how you can avoid this

Find out more about LifePlanning

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered by Caddy
Skip to content