Unconscious Bias: SNL, Since When Was Elder Abuse A Joke


Maybe, it is because I headed Diversity & Inclusion at a major Health System and while there, we instituted a program specifically to ensure that elderly patients were treated with dignity and respect. Maybe, it is because I do not believe SNL would have a four-minute comedy skit on the rape/exploitation of a 21-year-old. After all, that would be politically incorrect.

The context: Two twenty-something visit a nursing home to discover that their 91-year-old grandmother has had gonorrhea eight times! Why? Because she likes to be sexually active. According to the skit, she likes to pull a train of six to seven men at a time. According to the skit, the administration does not want to have the grandchildren remove her from the home because they may lose residents, if she leaves. After all, the administration sends the 91-year-old to men’s room at night to service them and she is good for morale because not only do the residents have sex with her, but the staff does, as well. Moreover, ‘Grammy’ winks because she is having a great time.

SNL thinks they have given themselves cover by stating that ‘Grammy’, Maureen, is “an adult woman of sound mind.” I guess, according to the scriptwriters, an adult woman of ‘sound mind’ likes pulling a train of six to seven men, likes being pimped out by the administration, likes being continuously infected with gonorrhea and likes to have staff abuse their power. Yes, senior citizens have consensual sex. However, senior citizens have also been abused in nursing homes.

Why did I think this was unconscious bias? Let’s change the context and let’s throw HIPAA Privacy Rule out the window: Relatives have come to visit their 21-year-old daughter/niece, who is in rehabilitation after an accident. She is having rehab for her right arm. The doctor tells her parents, an aunt and an uncle that she has had gonorrhea eight times, since entering rehab. Why? Because she likes to be sexually active. She likes to pull a train of six to seven men at a time. The administration sends her to men’s room at night to service them.  By the way, she, not only has sex with the patients, she has sex with the doctors, the nurses, the custodians, and all the healthcare professionals. She is good for patient and staff morale and good for business. Patients are more likely to stay in rehab because of her. The 21-year-old winks.

Not so funny is it!