The medical system doesn’t treat aging people well, especially when they are in hospitals, according to several recent books by medical doctors. This article discusses several of the books and explains why older Americans don’t receive good medical care unless their children or others who care about them are heavily involved in the care process.
They are not trained. No med school would ever let a student loose in an operating room without training. Yet, most do nothing to prepare graduates to have difficult conversations with older patients. It gets worse in residency. One attending physician put it like this: “I walk into a patient’s room followed by 10 eager residents. We all hover over the patient. They want to impress me and their peers, and they know the way to do it is to give fast, shorthand answers to my questions. They have no incentive to take the time to ask the patient how she feels or to explain things in lay language. We teach bad habits and shouldn’t be surprised that they learn them well.”