Are Doctors Meeting the Needs of an Aging Population?

Resulting from a rapidly growing older population, the health needs of seniors with complex medical issues are becoming increasingly difficult to meet.  There are few gerontologists trained specifically in the unique health issues that face older peoples which can include multiple prescriptions and living with several medical problems at one time.  Older adults are living longer but seniors may also have a combination of issues that threaten their health and their ability to live independently. 

The shortage of these specialists is becoming alarming and it is estimated the United States will need 23,000 new geriatricians by 2030 to provide the best care for an aging baby boomer generation.  But while specialties such as surgery, psychiatry or emergency medicine are capturing the attention of new doctors, treating older adults may not be as appealing or fast-paced.

A recent post by Dr. Anthony James on the website of the British Geriatrics Society takes a closer look at the immediate and increasing need for health care professionals to be trained to manage the needs of older patients. Dr. James notes that most elderly patients don’t have a single diagnosis and consequently may fall outside of the abilities of their treating specialist. Dr. James’ belief is that many specialties don’t consider it within their job description to manage problems such as common postoperative conditions and pain relief that used to be considered basic skills. In addition to physical health problems, elderly patients may also face social issues such as isolation and depression as well as poor mobility, nutrition deficits or confusion, requiring a holistic approach to health care management.

Using a holistic approach in assessing the need of older patients has been shown to reduce hospital admissions and readmission rates.  To read the full blog post, follow this link to the BGS website. 

Who Needs a Geriatrician?

  • Frail patients over the age of 75
  • Seniors with a number of disabilities or diseases
  • Elderly adults with cognitive problems
  • Seniors who’s family is under strain and stress as caregivers

To learn more about finding a geriatrics health professional or learning more about the benefits of consulting a geriatrician, visit the Health in Aging website here