In our “take a pill and call me in the morning” culture, who will care for us medically in our senior days? We may think that medical assistance is unlimited for our specific needs, but the older we get, the less likely that is true.
As the number of people who are 65 years of age or older is rapidly increasing, the number of geriatric medical specialists continues to decline. Census data projects that by the year 2030, which is only 11 years from now, 20 percent of the nation’s population will be 65 or older. In order to provide adequate medical care for this segment of the population, medical schools would need to train at least 6250 additional geriatricians by then to meet the need.
This is unlikely to happen. Few medical students are interested in going into geriatrics for several reasons. Working with the elderly can make young people feel vulnerable or uneasy about their own inevitable age progression. More education is required to care for medically complex patients with five to eight chronic conditions and the need to assess patients for cognitive and daily living abilities, hearing and visual deficits, and loneliness. And a career in geriatrics can be financially unattractive while trying to pay off medical debt because Medicare and Medicaid reimburse at lower rates than private health insurance companies.
If you are young and considering a career path, there will be plenty of opportunities for nurses, doctors, and caregivers willing to care for the elderly. If you are like me, and older, do your best to practice a healthy lifestyle. Proper medical care may be a rare commodity in the near future.
Have you seen my last blog post, Share at Least Your Excess, on Midwest Mary?