Ageism is associated with poorer outcomes for older people with cancer and can drive Elder Abuse which is experienced in some form by 1 in 6 older Australians.
Recognising ageism in ourselves and our institutions is the first step in addressing it. This presentation will address the impact, identification and response to these important and related challenges to the care of older people with cancer.
Are we harming our patients? Ageism is a highly prevalent experience in society, with population data suggesting that more than 90% of older individuals experience everyday ageism.
Ageism exists on multiple levels, including internalised experiences, social spaces,and institutional/societal spaces. Internalised ageism is the result of these various forms of ageism, and is most strongly associated with poor health and oncologic outcomes.
Individuals experiencing ageism are estimated to live 7.5 years shorter than individuals not exposed to this. In oncology, ageism is associated with lower rates of histological diagnosis, less systemic anti-cancer treatment (even when adjusted for non-age related variables), less surgical intervention, a poorer survivorship experience, and less access to clinical trials.
The REASON study explored cancer consumers and health professionals awareness of and attitudes towards identifying elder abuse in an acute hospital setting. The data gathered contributed to the development of a series of co-designed resources to raise awareness of the patients and carers to the issue of elder abuse and the importance of feeling safe to disclose concerns to clinicians involved in their care.
The resources are being integrated into consumer and clinician education initiatives. Excerpts of the co-designed resources will be shared during this MLL.
Professor Meinir Krishnasamy is the program champion for the VCCC Alliance Nurse-led Research Program. She is Director of the Academic Nursing Unit, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the VCCC Alliance Research & Education Lead, Cancer Nursing. She is also honorary Professor of Cancer Nursing at the University of Melbourne.
Dr Michael Krasovitsky is a medical oncologist specialising in geriatric oncology, upper gastrointestinal tract cancers and breast cancers. He is a member of the COSA geriatric oncology executive, and lead of the geriatric oncology emerging experts and researchers (GOEER) group. Dr Krasovitsky’s main areas of research interest include ageism in cancer care, frailty assessment in older individuals with cancer, polypharmacy in older age oncology, and quality of life assessment for older people with cancer.
Catherine Devereux is a clinician, co-design researcher, facilitator and education resource developer with particular interest in experiential learning, communications skills and person-centred approaches to care. Since 2015 Cath has led 6 co-design studies which have produced novel, innovative resources in partnership with cancer consumers and clinicians.