July 23, 2013

People Not Understanding Elderly Discrimination

I received a confusing email this week. Confusing for me as I did not understand what was missing, but it did not take long after the second email. I am not used to being called out for making up information when I use links to support my writing. The blog in question is this blog and the person was very upset that I would say that being in the elderly classification resulted in being discriminated against. This person could not believe we are being discriminated against.

She did not feel like she was being discriminated against and asked bluntly, why I felt that way. She is like me and using insulin, both short acting and long acting, plus metformin. Granted there is not a lot that researchers can do to discriminate against us as individuals and this was her point. After finding out that she has had diabetes for almost 30 of her 85 years, that she is also a member of a very strong support group and likes to use her computer, we have had several more emails. She does not like to do research, but reads quite a few blogs and enjoys reading.

I had to explain that I personally am not being discriminated against, but as a member of the over the age of 64, we are still being discriminated against, because we are excluded from studies just because of our age. I had to explain that even though we don't wish to participate in studies, which age group uses the most medications. She had to agree that those of us over 64 probably use the majority of medications. I asked her if she had friends on oral medications and she said many were on oral medications.

I told her that by excluding people using the majority of the oral medications, how did the doctors know that the drugs were safe for us, what was the correct dosage, and if our bodies could tolerate the medications. For some people there were clearly problems with some drugs and others were not tolerated well by some people. Much of this has been learned after the fact and by harm to patients when this should have been discovered before the FDA approved the drug. This is what finally made the subject clear to her. Not that we were being individually discriminated against, but as a group by not testing anyone in the group over 64 years of age with the medication, we were being discriminated against when we should not be if the testing had been done on people in our age group.

I then added that with the other conditions that an elderly person could have, how would the doctor make a correct assessment of what to start us on for oral medication and the clinically best for our age and related conditions. She agreed that this was not good for the elderly and concluded that even though we individually may not be discriminated against, the elderly, as a group, are clearly not being treated correctly because there is not clinical evidence to guide doctors.

I asked her how many were in her support group and how many were on insulin. She said there were seven members and four were on insulin. Two others wanted to change to insulin, but their doctors would not allow this. All had A1c's below 6.0% and even her doctor was urging her to let that rise. She said that all in her support group were 78 years young to 88 years. The four on insulin all have the same diabetes clinic and the other three see three different doctors. One of the three is still off all medications.

Then she surprised me by thanking me for my blog of February 8, and how much the ideal weight chart on Health Central had helped them. Only one of the group was overweight and then only by three pounds. They all live in the same area now and enjoy exercising together and comparing notes. I have now heard from three others in her group and they are all very positive in their attitude about diabetes.

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