Saturday, July 07, 2007

Good Medical Care and Aging

Playing defense is a skill rewarded in sports, but not so much in health care. Instead, we prefer "victory" in our "battle" against cancer, heart disease, etc. Is that why it's so hard to recruit students for the geriatric health professions?

A recent study from the University of Cincinnati showed that the number of certified geriatricians in the U.S. has declined 19 percent over the past decade to 7,100. At the same time, every 8 seconds a Boomer turns age 60 and the number of Americans over 65 is expected to reach 70 million by the year 2030. Yet the U.S. certifies only 315 new geriatricians each year, not enough to replace those headed into retirement. As the New Yorker points out, we're in danger of lacking good medical care for the last stage of life:

"Good medical care can influence which direction a person's old age will take. Most of us in medicine, however, don't know how to think about decline. We're good at addressing specific, individual problems: colon cancer, high blood pressure, arthritic knees. Give us a disease, and we can do something about it. But give us an elderly woman with colon cancer, high blood pressure, arthritic knees, and various other ailments besides an elderly woman at risk of losing the life she enjoys and we are not sure what to do." To read more, click here.

[Hat tip to H.R. Moody for bringing our attention to this]

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