What can you expect at your age?

An investigation of recent experiences of age discrimination by older adults accessing healthcare

What can you expect at your age?

An investigation of recent experiences of age discrimination by older adults accessing healthcare

Project Overview

Research demonstrates that healthcare settings are the second most likely places where older people in Australia experience ageism. So, the Older Women’s Network (OWN) NSW and HCNSW decided to partner to further investigate the issue of ageism in the healthcare sector in NSW.

… they ignore everything I was saying.

The project has its genesis in anecdotal evidence from the many members of HCNSW and OWN NSW, about instances of ageism they experienced in their dealings with the healthcare sector.

We conducted a survey and in-depth interviews to determine how ageism is experienced by older people today and what impact it has on them afterwards. What we discovered led to our Ageism in health care report, launched at the Shifting Gears Summit in March 2021 and a briefing workshop in April 2021.

Key project messages

  • 57% of the respondents in our survey said they had been treated differently because of their age.
  • Most people in our survey said that medical professionals not listening to the concerns of older people and minimising and dismissing illnesses were a problem.
  • Older Australians experience ageism in the healthcare system when they are negatively stereotyped as being ‘too old’, ‘bed blockers’ or a ‘waste of resources’.
  • These prejudices against older adults influence their diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
  • It corrodes older adults’ rights and affects their capacity for living a full and joyful life.

Project outcomes

I have given up going to doctors completely.

Our report “What Can You Expect at Your Age?!” – an investigation of recent experiences of age discrimination by older adults accessing health care shines a light on the experiences and points of view of older Australians using healthcare services in NSW and Australia.

We have provided the report to Ministers and stakeholders within NSW Health as well as the research sector. We held a public launch of the report and a briefing webinar in 2021 that put the issue of Ageism in healthcare on people’s agenda and ran a social media campaign around Ageism Awareness Day in October 2021.

Ageism report cover

"What can you expect at your age?!"

An investigation of recent experiences of age discrimination by older adults accessing health care

What Next?

This is a critical issue, and we will continue to work in partnership with NSW Health and the wider healthcare sector to address the serious problems identified in the report.