Is it ageism to expect priority in the hospitals? — Peju Akande

Is it ageism to expect priority in the hospitals? — Peju Akande

Ageism: what does it mean?

I ‘hear’ about it a lot from our young people. They agonise at length over how older people feel entitled. I remember the year Prof. Wole Soyinka trended when some young man was said to have asked the Nobel Laureate to vacate his airplane window seat.

The young man had asked the Prof . to move from his allocated window seat and the Prof. had complied. Anti-ageists went on a rampage against the Prof., with many citing the different instances where older people “cheated” them out of things because…well, they were older.

Oxford Dictionary describes it as “prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age.”

This means when someone feels he or she is being discriminated against because of his/her age. Then ageism is at play here. But if we flip it, say, someone feels because of his or her age/they should be attended to in the hospital’for instance, not because they are necessarily older but because their trauma is more.

Would we say ageism is at work here?


Well, I haven’t got to that age but when I do; I would like to be given some kind of consideration above my more able-bodied humans in places like hospitals, buses, restaurants…

In the last few months, years, 5, 6 maybe even more, I’ve been taking my aged mother to see doctors. For her eyes, for her high BP, joints…For the surgery she did five years back that developed into a serious complication. Hospitals have been places where I go regularly with mother.

On the side: if you are healthy, fight to stay healthy!

Hospitals are always full…private, public, even worse…But they are always full to capacity and with very few doctors, too. Thanks to ja pa-ism, our doctors are fleeing Nigeria like the Israelites fled Egypt in Bible times. But that’s a topic for another day.

Now, every time we go; mother leaves the house early being 6am-ish. Hospital days are days we don’t sleep the night prior because we have to get there early in order to be attended to early.

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This means, regardless of your age, you take your turn at the hospitals, which makes sense, really. There’s no priority for the aged who are sick; on top of the fact that their faculties aren’t as sharp as it was years before. So, they are in double agony.

Mother is 76 and has been in unstable health for more than 6 years…So, getting to the hospital is cumbersome and having to wait our turn is traumatic, to say the least. When mother sits for say, 15 minutes, she’s in pain. She wants to get up and pace. This means she is breathless for hours and she is often not alone. Several aged patients in varying degrees of ill-health are expected to wait their turn, regardless of their conditions.

I think this is wrong.

I see so many elderly at the hospitals who, despite their illnesses, tell the people who escort them to the hospital to take them away. One elderly woman was in so much pain, she wailed to be put to death! But everyone told her she had to wait her turn. Doctors were stretched thin, nurses, too; their tempers were high and their tongues razor sharp. One nurse was very clear about it, “Mama, you are not the only one who is sick. Everybody here wants to see doctor. It’s first come first served…”

I have often wondered why the aged aren’t given priority. They are tired, sick and they should be attended to; except of course in cases of emergencies, then others get prioritized.

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I spoke to a young doctor at LASUTH about this and he said; “One doctor is doing the job of three…We are doing our best.”

It didn’t answer my question. It only said to me that I was wasting his time on an issue he had no control over. So, maybe doctors shouldn’t be the ones deciding on who to see first or not. It should be the hospital management. Can they make it a policy?

Is it even right to do so in the age where ageism is seen as a sin?

Just asking for a friend.

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