Expert and Public Understanding of Aging

There is a negative general understanding of aging in the expert and public sector. Aging is seen as an obstacle or enemy to avoid or overcome. This negative perception blocks productive policies and attitudes necessary for the wellbeing of older adults. It also contributes to a lack of attention of ageism. This keeps the issue off the public’s radar and delays attempts to address age discrimination. In addition, the aging is seen as an individualistic process. It is the individual who is automatically assigned the responsibility. Therefore, there is a direct impediment in thinking about the importance of having structural and policy-level solutions for the elderly. 

Elderly Empathy

For elder individuals, communication with caregivers can be a difficult task. It can lead to the difference between productive or counterproductive caregiving. When communication becomes problematic, desensitization towards the patient’s emotions can occur. This is especially true for elder patients with mental and behavioral health illnesses, which can increase the risk for elder abuse. When there is lack of communication in addition to other stressors, it can lead to a negative relationship between both parties. By utilizing games, we can learn to empathize from different perspectives.

Empathy Literature Review

In this literature review, there is a discussion of empathy in the connection of improving communication between the elder and the caregiver. It has been found that mental and physical impairments that an elder has may increase the sense of caregiving burden as well as increase the probability of miscommunication. Therefore, the incidence of elder abuse has elevated rates in elder who may be physically or mentally impaired, demonstrating how the derailment of communication is directly linked to the possible increase of elder abuse. Another facet of elder abuse is also explored, in addressing how the persecution of duty or the perceived responsibility towards the elder may affect the attitude towards caregiving. The relationship between the caregiver and the elder is greatly affected by ease of communication, which is often conflicted by the lack of understanding between physical and mental impairments. Yet, the dyad’s relationship may also be derailed by the attitude in which both perceive their role. If the caregiver perceives caregiving as a burden or has been unexpectedly given the responsibility of caregiving, then they are less receptive of the elder. At the same time, the response of the caregiver and the ability to express the differences in communication also prove to be another factor in communication. There are many aspects that affect effective communication but more importantly there is a clear correlation between productive communication to prevent the misunderstandings that can cause elder abuse.

Download Empathy Literature Review

Refer to our Chart of Tools for Measuring Empathy.

Recommended Resources

Aging, Agency, and Attribution of Responsibility: Shifting Public Discourse about Older Adults

O’Neil, M. & Haydon, A. (2015). Aging, agency and attribution of responsibility: Shifting public discourse about older adults. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.

Gauging Aging: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Aging in America

Lindland, E., Fond, M., Haydon, A., & Kendall-Taylor, N. (2015). Gauging aging: Mapping the gaps between expert and public understandings of aging in America. Washington, DC: FrameWorks Institute.