You struggle to remember major appointments or where you left your wallet every day. This worries you, but others shrug it off as “senior moments.”

At your doctor’s office, you wonder why your vision is blurred or if your heart medication causes fatigue, which was never explained to you. The doctor blames all your symptoms on getting older. They speak slowly, as if they were talking to a child.

It might seem like it’s all in your head, but ageism is a very real, overlooked barrier to good health. About 20% of people over 50 face age-based discrimination in healthcare, according to U.S. National Health and Retirement data. It can contribute to cognitive decline, more hospital stays, disability, worse health and quality of life, and depression. Over the long term, these attitudes shorten lives.

“Ageism is probably the most under-recognized unconscious bias,” said Sonja Rosen, MD, chief of Geriatrics at Cedars-Sinai.


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