I have enjoyed the work of Betty White for quite sometime; from the Mary Tyler Moore Show to Boston Legal, I have been a fan. Flipping through the channels recently, I came across Betty White’s 90th birthday special on NBC. I was amazed as her work over several decades was highlighted. The icing on the cake was the show that came on afterwards, Off Their Rockers (my favorite clip is at 7:16 minutes through). This show is about older adults pranking unsuspecting young people about stereotypes that are common among senior citizens. Not only is it hilarious, it shows a side of older adults that isn’t often depicted in national television programming.
In healthcare, we are sometimes too quick to make assumptions about people, especially the elderly. Sometimes we talk louder or slower, expecting the person to be hard of hearing. With regards to diabetes, one might avoid talking to an older adult about new technology or medications, assuming it may be over their head or to hard to master. Or one might not encourage healthy eating or exercise, assuming the person is too set in their ways.
It’s important to tailor health treatments to the individual person, not their chronological age. I have seen “old” 40 year olds and “young” 80 year olds. There isn’t a diabetes recipe for blood sugar and A1C targets based on how old someone is without considering other factors. We should be working with patients to develop reasonable goals, based on individual healthcare needs. Betty White once said, “I’m a teenage trapped in an old body”. Do your patients relate?