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Lack of geriatric physicians in the U.S.

Posted by Dr. Shirley Newell
Date:
Category: Healthy Aging

A geriatric physician examines an older woman

In the American healthcare system, we are facing a dilemma that can greatly affect the health and wellbeing of your aging parent, and eventually, you.  We have a lack of specifically trained geriatric physicians to care for our aging population.

Geriatricians specialize in the care of older adults. They are trained in family practice or internal medicine but have additional training in the care of older patients. They are experts in illnesses associated with age and can manage the complexities of older patients with multiple care needs.

As we all know, our aging Baby Boomer generation is creating a surge in our older population. By 2030, one out of every five Americans—or about 70 million total—will be older than age 65, according to the American Geriatric Society. But at the moment, the supply of geriatric specialists to care for older individuals is not keeping up.

According to the American Geriatric Society, we should have one geriatrician available for every 700 patients. They project that by 2030, there will only be one geriatrician for every 4,484 people over the age of 75.  In 2045, this drops to one geriatrician for every 10,000 patients. As people are now living longer, this gap in specialized care can greatly jeopardize the health of older Americans.

One of the main reasons for this shortage is financial.   Doctors who specialize in geriatric medicine must take an additional year of school, adding to their already large medical school debt. A career in geriatrics can be financially unattractive because most of their patients are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, which have lower reimbursement rates than private health insurance companies. Geriatricians are among the lowest paid medical professionals but spend the most amount of time caring for their patients.

How can you find a geriatrician?

There are geriatric physicians available to you and your loved ones in your area. Here are two resources to find these doctors:

Health in Aging Foundation.

The official foundation of the American Geriatrics Society, a nonprofit group that provides Geriatrician referral services online and by phone.

Website: www.healthinaging.org

Email:   info@healthinaging.org

Phone: (212) 308-1414

U.S. News Doctor Finder.

It is a free searchable online directory of U.S. physicians that’s designed to help consumers make informed decisions in their choice of doctors.

Website: health.usnews.com

At Aegis Living, we are concerned about the health and care of each of our aging residents. We are proud partners with both the University of Washington Medicine and the University of California San Francisco to provide primary, geriatric, and palliative care to our residents through regularly scheduled appointments within our communities. Our residents can receive the best care from qualified doctors in the comfort of their own apartment.   Contact Aegis Living today to schedule a tour and to learn more about the superior care we provide our residents.

Download a list of geriatricians provided by Health in Aging Foundation for the State of California and for the State of Washington.
(These lists are sourced from the Health in Aging Foundation. It may not be all inclusive and Aegis Living is not providing an endorsement by making the lists available.)

 

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