Here in the U.S., our population is aging – but the number of geriatric care specialists is declining. And that spells a brewing health care crisis among seniors, according to an article published a few months ago in the New York Times. You can access the article here.
We have repeatedly emphasized how important it is for seniors to have a proper medical team, including the expertise of a geriatric care physician, or geriatrician. The New York Times article provides a dramatic illustration. It describes the author’s aging father and how the care of a geriatrician saved him from empty, drab institutional living. For anyone who wants to avoid unplanned institutional care as they age – and that’s just about everyone – this article and other resources we’ve cited in our Resource archive (click here to access our archive) is both encouraging and sobering.
The encouragement comes from the results geriatricians can achieve for their patients. “Good geriatric care can make an enormous difference,” the Times article states. “Older adults whose health is monitored by a geriatrician enjoy more years of independent living, greater social and physical functioning, and lower presence of disease. In addition these patients show increased satisfaction, spend less time in the hospital, exhibit markedly decreased rates of depression and spend less time in nursing homes.” We’ve been talking about these advantages for years!
But the sobering news is this: there’s a growing shortage of geriatric care physicians in America. The American Geriatric Society suggests that we should have one geriatrician for every 300 aging people. But projections show that, in 2030, the U.S. will have one geriatrician for every 3,800 seniors! There are currently only about 8,000 practicing geriatricians in the country, and that number is declining.
What’s worse is that medical students are chronically undertrained in the needs of seniors. Again quoting the New York Times, “Most health care professionals have had little to no training in the care of older adults. Currently, 97 percent of all medical students in the United States do not take a single course in geriatrics.” This seems hard to believe considering the aging population but it’s true.
Fortunately, here at our practice we have established relationships with geriatric care physicians in our area. Contact us for details, and we’ll be happy to refer you to a health care professional who will treat you with the respect and understanding you deserve.
Of course there’s more to planning for your retirement than picking a good physician. When we work with our clients, we help them develop a comprehensive plan that includes not only your medical needs but also plans for your legal affairs, your housing options, your financial security and the communication with your loved ones. We would love to do the same for you! We call this type of retirement plan a LifePlan, and you can start the process of creating your own by attending one of our free information-packed Life Planning Seminars. We hold these popular events at locations throughout the area.
Space at our LifePlanning Seminars is limited, so we invite you to click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates and times of seminars near you. We’ll see you soon!
(Originally reported at www.nytimes.com)