Here at AgingOptions, we are always interested to read about new services and new products geared toward seniors. In some ways our society seems to have finally awakened to the fact that our nation is aging. Marketers in particular have finally figured out that, by the year 2030, about 31 million Americans will be older than 75 – the largest number ever in U.S. history. Aging baby boomers with their disposable income and desire to keep active represent a powerful market for advertisers with products and services to sell.
However, we’ve noticed one glaring exception to this trend of accommodating seniors, and that is in the specialty of geriatric medicine. An article we discovered earlier this year in the New York Times asks a question we’ve been repeating with increasing urgency: “As the population ages, where are the geriatricians?” This compelling article shines a spotlight on one of the real paradoxes in today’s medical landscape, namely that the market is increasing but the number of providers is decreasing. Or as the Times puts it, “Geriatrics is one of the few medical specialties in the United States that is contracting even as the need increases, ranking at the bottom of the list of specialties that internal medicine residents choose to pursue.”
Here at AgingOptions we always advise our clients, radio listeners and seminar attendees of the critical importance of having a geriatric specialist as quarterback of their medical team. That’s because, when it comes to dealing with aging patients, no one understands the special needs of seniors better. “A geriatrician,” to quote the Times, “is a physician already certified in internal or family medicine who has completed additional training in the care of older adults.” Besides clinical care, “geriatricians are skilled in navigating the labyrinth of psychological and social problems that often arise in the aging population.” While some traditional physicians want to claim that having a geriatric specialist is unnecessary, those in geriatric practice assert just the opposite. The special needs of seniors, they emphasize, absolutely dictate the requirement for special training and certification to properly care for older patients.
According to statistics in the Times article, there are about 7,000 geriatricians in practice today in the United States. In the next 14 years the U.S. is going to need almost twice that many to meet the need. But because geriatricians earn less than other specialists, and because other specialties may offer more prestige, not enough medical students are gravitating toward geriatrics. Nevertheless there are encouraging signs that this trend may be slowly changing as medical schools are beginning to do a better job of training their students “to see older patients through a geriatrics lens.”
If this issue is important to you – and we hope it is – we urge you to contact us here at AgingOptions. Here in the Pacific Northwest we’re fortunate to have some excellent geriatric clinics and well-qualified geriatricians to whom we can refer you. These are trusted providers we can recommend with complete confidence. As you approach your retirement years, and begin planning for all the various facets of retirement, don’t overlook the most important factor of all: preserving your health. Finding and consulting with a good geriatric physician can be an essential first step.
When it comes to the first step in planning for a rewarding and secure retirement, you need to seek out some good advice, and that’s precisely why we’re here. There is much more to this type of planning, which we call LifePlanning, than your medical needs alone. Your LifePlan will also encompass your financial protection, your legal preparation, your housing options, and your family communication, all in one comprehensive document. Interested in learning more about this powerful and unique approach to retirement planning? The perfect way to discover the power of the LifePlanning process for yourself is to attend one of our free LifePlanning Seminars. These are information-packed sessions that will provide you with a wealth of valuable insights to help launch you on the road to a secure and fruitful retirement.
You can simply click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website for dates, times and locations, and then register online for the seminar of your choice. You can also call our office during the week and we’ll gladly assist you. It will be a pleasure to meet with you and to introduce to the power of LifePlanning.
(Originally reported at www.nytimes.com)