Low Health Literacy among Less Educated Older Adults

Low Health Literacy among Less Educated Older Adults

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Low Health Literacy among Less Educated Older Adults

Education plays a significant role in the lives of almost everyone. With older adults who have low levels of education, they must get to know about the current trends, especially in the health sector. However, that does not always happen, and these individuals, even though significant to society most of the time, are left out, and their health is never taken care of thoroughly. This comes as a result of them not following up on current news or adjustments in the health sector. Another reason they may not be conversant with the health issues is that they may be not connected to their children, or their children still either do not care too much about the parent’s health or do not follow up on current changes in the health sector. Therefore this paper discusses limited education as a factor that leads to low health literacy among older adults.

The reason for choosing this factor as a determinant of those who have less knowledge about their health is that low levels of education make it very difficult for a person to read about health matters. Also, how they can benefit from the different provisions already in place, especially for the older people. Having low levels of education also means that the person must have had a low-paying job and maybe did not save for the old age period. Therefore, why do not have any assurance or insurance that caters to their needs at old age? These individuals, therefore, have a difficult time managing themselves when it comes to health because, without the knowledge about something, it is challenging to benefit from such a thing. These older individuals with less education go through a lot before getting their health needs which are many at this stage addressed (Hahn & Truman, 2015). Older adults with less education can be approximated to those individuals who have only got the basic levels of education. In most times, these can be immigrants or those from marginalized areas.

Health issues

This is a contributing factor towards low levels of education as well as low levels of health knowledge. Most of the individuals who have health issues during their lifetime find they cannot fully grasp what their doctors or other assistants request them to do in terms of relation to their health. Therefore, these individuals, most of the time who are older adults, cannot fully understand what it means to take a particular medication within a given timeline or in a certain way, which continues to compromise their health in so many different ways. However, this happens when these individuals do not have an assistant. There are many kinds of policies, legislation, and guidelines for older adults who may have been influenced by health issues or are already being influenced by health issues. Due to that, their health literacy is deteriorating, or they could not achieve health literacy (Chesser et al., 2016). One of them is assigning these individuals a support system whereby they have a person look after them and ensure their health is at optimal health levels. The other thing is helping those who can still grasp some information about health issues to understand the basics about their health and what they can do to better their health in all possible ways in their age.

Ethical issues

When it comes to dealing with older people, ethics becomes a concern since these individuals have to be treated with the highest form of respect and assisted through everything to be healthy and better. This varies from the manner of handling to addressing them and considering different cultures from where they originate (Findley, 2015). Therefore, the ethical issue is that most of these older adults are from different cultures. The different cultures that other older adults are additional, and hence, there is a need to uphold the same in the hospital environment. The older people with less knowledge about their health aspirations, legislations, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle most of the time tend to follow everything they might have heard before about health. Therefore, it is essential to address the issues they bring on board with a lot of care and respect. This enables them to leave behind the practices which they think are reasonable yet they are not good. Legislations in this area are that older adults should be treated with total respect and given all possible guidelines, they need to succeed in achieving a healthy status. Therefore health care officers should treat older people with a lot of care and help them through everything.

Technological issues

Most of the older people are not conversant with technology. Therefore, it brings a significant challenge to hospitals and even their caretakers because most health matters have been integrated with technology (CDC, 2009). Consequently, the provisions in this area are that these older people are trained on the basics about technology and how it relates to their health by their caretakers or nurses. Through this, a mutual benefit and understanding about technology are hoped to be achieved.

Cultural issues

Culture is part and parcel of a person. Therefore, older adults are likely to be more inclined to their cultures more, which brings cultural conflict with medical methods. Some individuals believe in traditional forms of treatment and therefore never go to the hospital; this is always a danger, and most people do not think about it, especially older adults. Even though some cultural practices are excellent and even help make the health of the individuals involved better, some others are a danger, and they make their health to be in trouble. The legislation in this area is that only positive health contributions of cultural practices are allowed (Hahn & Truman, 2015). Therefore anything that goes against the health provisions for older adults is to be scrapped, and the older adults are advised on how to use the scientifically proven methods to make their health better.


Even though older healthy adults are faced with different issues and problems relating to their health, several interventions are already in place and others that can be put into practice to enable older adults to be in good health. Most of the interventions are encouraged by the medical field in conjunction with those who work closely with older adults. Therefore they try to help older adults be better in their quest for a healthy lifestyle.

Training the older adults on ways to live a healthy life means that the older adults are trained on the basics about keeping themselves clean and healthy throughout. This training may not require much and are possible since these older adults can grasp little information. Therefore, the movement in bits that are fully comprehensible and understandable to the older people is good. The activity also calls for practicals and being shown how to do different things to maintain their health.

They have caretakers for the older individuals. Most of these older individuals always need to be taken care of in case of those who need a person to keep close to them not to make a mistake about their health (CDC, 2009). Even though this can be expensive, the older adults need to be taken care of and given the total concentration that will enable their health to remain optimal.

Encourage the use of local dialects of English or a language that is familiar to them when they go to the hospital for the sake of expressing themselves. This also calls for a nurse or a medical officer with the same linguistic competence as the older adult to be present to listen and interpret this older adult’s needs. Some of these English dialects include Philadelphia English, Boston English, Chicago English, and so on.

When these individuals come to the hospital, having a person who stays with them or cares for them explains or expresses more profound what they need is a better way for them to address the issues that affect them.

Hospitals are keeping a record of the number of times the patient visits and therefore tracking the history of the older adult. This helps and enables the individuals to be better and their issues to be addressed efficiently.


My grandmother has 80 years currently, and she stays with a caretaker. Her memory has deteriorated, and she cannot precisely remember everything about her health issues. She is an excellent example of a person who has low health literacy due to her medical condition.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Improving health literacy for older adults: Expert panel report 2009. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services.

Chesser, A. K., Keene Woods, N., Smothers, K., & Rogers, N. (2016). Health literacy and older adults: a systematic review. Gerontology and geriatric medicine, 2, 2333721416630492.

Findley, A. (2015). Low health literacy and older adults: meanings, problems, and recommendations for social work. Social Work in Health Care, 54(1), 65-81.

Hahn, R. A., & Truman, B. I. (2015). Education improves public health and promotes health equity. International journal of health services, 45(4), 657-678.