If fewer students are interested in pursuing careers in gerontology and other fields associated with aging populations, could more residents of Escondido and other areas of Southern California be subject to elder abuse or neglect in the future? In other words, if there are fewer people entering into professions that serve the elderly in which they help to identify and prevent nursing home abuse, will the rate of abuse and neglect among the senior population increase? According to a recent article in The Ithacan, this is exactly what is happening: Fewer students are interested in careers through which they would work with the elderly population. This news is especially problematic given that the rate of the senior population is expected to increase drastically in the coming years.
Disinterest Among College Students and Some Medical Students in Aging Studies
Is there a stigma surrounding aging studies marked by a persistent ageism? According to the article, “scholars believe ageism and the possible fears associated with death and dying contribute to a common disinterest college students have toward aging studies.” As the article goes on to clarify, studies that have investigated this topic have underscored just how problematic this disinterest could be given that the population of seniors in California and throughout the country is growing, and those people will need well-trained medical professionals.
It is not just college students. The dearth of professionals interested in working with the elderly extends to graduate students and current healthcare professionals, as well. A study from the Institute of Medicine addressed this problem. The study, entitled “Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce,” articulates how there is a “shortage of people joining the healthcare workforce who specialize in care for older adults.”
We have previously suggested that there is a shortage of home healthcare workers due to low pay for the amount and type of work expected. However, the article and study suggest that there is something more at work beyond just financial issues. According to one anti-ageism activist cited in the article, a lot of people have “age cooties” when it comes to working with older adults.
Finding Ways to Attract Employees to Geriatric Care
The Institute of Medicine emphasizes the importance of finding ways not only to “boost recruitment and retention of geriatric specialists and health care aides” in its fact sheet, but it also highlights the need to develop a broader base of physicians, researchers, and healthcare providers who can attend to issues facing elderly patients. The more people who can serve seniors and can recognize the signs and symptoms of nursing home abuse and neglect, the better off patients will be.
In many ways, the UC San Diego Center for Health Aging is taking this kind of multidisciplinary approach. In the Stein Institute for Research on Aging, there are more than 130 faculty members in a wide variety of fields, from bioengineering to preventive medicine, who work together to “understand the complex aging process and various age-related diseases.” In the coming years, as the elderly population increases, it is possible that even more multidisciplinary work that stretches into the social sciences and the humanities could further expand the reach of centers like the Stein Institute.
Contact an Escondido Elder Abuse Lawyer
In the meantime, if you have questions about filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit, an experienced Escondido elder abuse attorney can speak with you about your case. Contact the Walton Law Firm to learn more about how we can help.
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(image courtesy of Faustin Tumbayaze)