This article from The Guardian’s website compares the use of medication for older people with the safeguards in place when prescribing for children.
It made a lot of sense to me. It is a part of the sensation that ageism permeates much of society and it is difficult to shake off and to rationalise.
If someone needs support, they need support regardless of age. I’ve noticed a little bit of snootiness among colleagues even, when I tell them I work, primarily, with older people. They seem to think it is a less radical or less ‘important’ area of work. Personally, I can’t think of an area of social work which needs as much input or progression than older people’s services because there has been a lot of stagnation not least from the workforce itself.
Conversely, that’s why there is so much progress that can be made in the area. I tended to think that it was because people don’t like to think about getting older or to think of what might happen to them – it is easier to disassociate the personal feelings if the ‘client’ is an ‘other’. A disadvantaged child. Someone with an illness or disability that we can approach from a ‘professional’ rather than ‘personal’ viewpoint.
With older people, we all have/had parents, family members and can think of ourselves in the future as being ‘old’. I like to think that some of my personal experiences of family members and providing care, care services and knowing what works – can help inform my practice.
Sometimes looking at the services from the inside can make one become more downhearted and frightened about ones’ own future and that of friends and family. But sometimes, it can make one very hopeful – and to be in a position to change that for some people and on a broader level, is a very particular and fortunate, I think.
The injustices, inequalities and discriminations exist where they would not be sanctioned in any other service area. Just the attitudes of other social workers can be indicative of this. And that is one of the reasons I like working in this area. There is such a lot that needs to be done.