HEALTH CARE FOR THE GOLDEN AGED
In chapter 1 of Joralemon, importance is placed on a symbiotic complex of biological processes. Medical anthropology has illustrated interference in patience versus clinal setting as a culture. The practice of medicine and it’s implication in anthropology are deeply inter- linked with society, disease and medical professionals. The social demographic which is an epitome of a frequent health care user are older people.
The existence of a state of retirement for large numbers of the population is a feature of most industrialized societies. As such it has prompted the interest of many different anthropologists and sociologists who have constructed a number of different theories to account for the position of older people.Aging can be defined as a process which occurs throughout life. While not totally understood, the aging process involves an interaction of biological changes, rooted in the genetic make-up of the individual. Primary aging occurs within the individual over time, while secondary aging results from a variety of hostile agents as discussed during class.
I spent several hours observing the patients and the general social setting of the medical clinic of St-Bruno. I observed 60 to 70 patients, four doctors, two receptionists and a nurse. The clinic has a total of 2-3000 registered patients, which visit the clinic yearly. The waiting time to be seen by a doctor was between 15-20 minutes. During the observation, ten people were turned down since their files were classified as inactive.There was a clear posting informing newcomers that they would not be accepting new patients. Generally, the patients were between the ages of 65 and 80.
Scanning the room, I observed “physical” (external) injuries in 7 patients. The general atmosphere between the patients in the waiting room was one of indifference towards each other. It seemed that each individual was on their personal quest and would not let themselves be distracted by there neighboring compatriot.Yet , scrutinizing it more closely, it might have been masking a deeper woven sense of isolation. Withdrawal has social aspects.The elder who feel unwanted may indeed have been unwanted by their children or by the workday world in which they become, seemingly, surpluses.The social aspects of withdrawal are accentuated by our youth-oriented society, but there is a definite decrease in the tolerance for social interaction by the aged.
Doctors called the patients by their first names, suggesting that the doctor patient relationship was personal rather then the popularized non-personal version. It seemed that the patients went to the clinic on a regular basis. Regular visits to physicians might have a seemingly “preventative” up side aspect yet, one of the most notable features of older patients is the existence of what is known as “polypharmacy” the taking by one patient of many different medicines. Many items are prescribed on repeat prescriptions, leading to a build-up over time.This can lead to problems in acute hospital care, where doctors might not be sure what medication older patients are on when they are admitted.
Older patients are the largest single group of users of hospital services.This is not just confined to those specialties with an interest in the conditions of old age such as geriatric medicine but throughout most of the major specialties. Aging may not be synonymous with frailty and illness but policy makers assume that a population with a high proportion of older people is also one that produces greater demands on its health care services.The governments calculate what is known as a 'dependency ratio' based on the proportion of the population. It is assumed that it represent a pressure on expenditure that the younger generation will have to pay for. This is perceived as a social norm or reality, that youth lives, ages and is supported