Doctors Guilty Of Ageism?

Like many retirees, Fred and Lorraine Meding know a thing or two about doctors, and bedside manners that get old fast.

"Sometimes doctors have a tendency to stereotype you because you're a senior citizen," says Fred Meding.

As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, it's a common gripe among seniors: that doctors practice age-ism, often treating older patients like children.

"I can't stand a doctor who has an attitude toward me like, 'You don't know what you're talking about,'" says 99-year-old Faye Youngblood.

At the University of South Carolina, the medical school educates the next generation of doctors.

One course, which you could call, "Inter-Generational Warmth 101," matches every medical student with a senior mentor.

Like many classmates, third-year student Will Vachon has never really known a senior citizen.

"I don't have a lot of experience just interacting with people of that age," says Vachon.

But he's learning fast.

His mentor is Youngblood.

She was born in Oklahoma before it was a state, but robust enough to flatten a myth or two about the elderly.

"You shouldn't just assume they're frail old people," says Vachon.

"We're not all senile," says Youngblood

"And they're not all senile," says Vachon.

And over the last four years, house calls on the Medings have opened the eyes of students Darin Passer and Liz Lambert.

"They want the best health care for themselves, they want to work with you, they want you to be truthful with them," says Lambert.

These are skills the next generation of doctors will need. America is aging, and for many doctors, half their patients eventually could be seniors.

"I think the mentors tell them pretty much straight up, 'This is how you do it,' so they may not have a chance to do it wrong," says Ellen Roberts, director of the Senior Mentor Project.

Fred Meding will tell you straight up.

"We're not all the same, and we all don't need Viagra," he says.

Just in case his doctor needs to know.
  • Jaime Holguin

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter