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Opinion

Frailty and the new ageism

By Kenneth Rockwood      

Here’s the trick: patients do best when their single illness, no matter how complicated, and no matter what their age, is their main problem. Sub-specialized care may work very well for them.

Canada's federal Health Minister Jane Philpott, pictured in a scrum on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Kenneth Rockwood says medicine should not be ageist and Canada must work to provide better care for frail older adults, especially when they are ill. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

HALIFAX, N.S.—Should medicine be ageist? A young trainee doctor recently proposed to me that it should. Health care is overstretched, she argued. “We can’t do everything for everyone, so why spend money on old people, who have little chance of benefit?” For her, ageism is not all that bad—in fact, it’s a practical response to limited resources.

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