What makes a vulnerable person or a community vulnerable, is that they cannot advocate for themselves or for their health care needs. Like in the cases of uninsured and underinsured individuals, they may not seek medical help or preventive health care fearing the expenses (Falkner, 2018). Individuals may have mixed reasons to be categorized as vulnerable population, such as uninsured/underinsured and being a senior citizen; minority and poverty; cognitively/emotionally/physically impaired and LGBTQ; or any other combinations of those.
CDC published statistics finalized based on Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, 2018, stating that number of persons under age 65 uninsured at the time of interview was 30.1 million, which is 11.1%. This group of population is not only at-risk group, as they are at higher risk for developing chronic conditions and/or complications, but also vulnerable from not having access to healthcare due to lack of health insurance. The high risk for complications from flu infection, for example, includes adults 65 years of age and older (CDC.gov). They cannot advocate for their health needs and require attention/assistance/advocacy from PHN in finding local resources such as free clinics.
One of the ethical issues, when working with senior citizens, may raise from bias believes that elderlies are frail and must be protected, and may lead to disregarding the individual’s rights of lifestyle preferences and choices (Ludwick & Silva, 2004). I have advocated for senior citizens in the similar situations, in the acute and long-term care settings, protecting the persons’ dignity and rights to refuse certain treatments while providing appropriate care and paying respect.