Ageism is a discrimination against successful optimal aging. Many practitioners today, even those presumably trained in the care of older adults, still don’t fully understand the evidence or the age based normative values that should be applied to an older adult.
Our mission at FOX is to believe in our clients to achieve what they once thought impossible – optimal function to rehabilitate their lives. This mission is important because it talks about the clinician/client relationship. It speaks to the fact that it is the clinician’s duty, after the initial examination, to educate the client on what their true abilities are, what it is that they can achieve and the things they can accomplish that they once thought impossible.
Our approach is to go back to the “pre-episodic level” of function. As all of our clients are chronic and have multiple chronic conditions and medical complexities, it is vital to determine the client’s pre-episodic level – that date and time of a client’s previous level of function to which we strive to return.
At FOX we believe we should look back 12 months or greater, as the conditions are chronic and worsen over time, and we can’t expect the functional conditions that we are treating to instantly snap back in eight weeks. We believe our clients deserve to get back to that prior level of function from 12 months prior, prior to the dysfunction and disability that was caused by the chronic condition.
We believe this is the essence of ageism, when practitioners don’t really understand this look-back period and as a result don’t set appropriate goals. In order for ageism to be completely removed, the proper goals need to be determined and then combined with lots of different variables and data points – functional outcome measure results, age based normative values, clinical examination, patient desires and wishes. All of these variables must be taken into account. But it is the practitioner truly trained in geriatrics that understands how to put these variables together to achieve functional wellness for our patients. Then and only then are we truly doing what is right for the client and taking a stand against ageism.