Physician use of the phrase “due to old age” to address complaints of elderly symptoms in Japanese medical settings: The merits and drawbacks

Clinical Ethics 17 (1):14-21 (2022)


In everyday medical settings in Japan, physicians occasionally tell an elderly patient that their symptoms are “due to old age,” and there is some concern that patient care might be negatively impacted as a result. That said, as this phrase can have multiple connotations and meanings, there are certain instances in which the use of this phrase may not necessarily be indicative of ageism, or prejudice against the elderly. One of the goals in medical care is to address pain and suffering that develops with age in elderly individuals, and whether or not aging is a disease is inconsequential. However, assuming that an individualized and thorough examination has been performed, there are some conditions that can be attributed only to age. Accordingly, physicians must acknowledge the merits and drawbacks of using the phrase “due to old age,” and exercise caution when using it. Both physicians and their elderly patients must share a common awareness of the incomplete and limited nature of modern medicine and its scope, and physicians must help their elderly patients accept and live with the aging phenomenon.

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Aging as Disease.Gunnar De Winter - 2015 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (2):237-243.

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