There are many health issues impacting the elderly everywhere in the world. A new study however, found that a staggering 25 percent of the seniors in India are suffering from depression; a third has arthritis and a fifth is unable to hear. In addition, it seems this problem is only going to get worse since it is estimated that by next year, there will be 100 million people in the 60+ age group and by 2030, that figure will almost double to 198 million.
So how is India planning on dealing with this phenomenon? There has been a revision of the National Programme for the Healthcare of the Elderly (NPHCE) which is now planning on establishing 20 institutions that can turn out 40 post-graduates in MD in geriatric medicine annually. As well, it will have another 6,400 beds in district hospitals and 1,000 beds in medical colleges for the elderly by 2017.
This is definitely a good start but there is still a long way to go until the issue of the elderly is solved in India.
It is the time of baby boomers throughout America, but in Kern County caretakers and physicians are looking to provide solutions to this problem. A report from the area’s Aging and Adult Services Department has shown that the number of baby boomers is almost 178,000 across the nation. (Baby boomers are those aged 48 to 66). As CAO of KMC Dr. Eric vanSonnenberg pointed out, “geriatrics is absolutely becoming a booming area.” The problem is the healthcare workforce is just not equipped to deal with this, according to a report in 2008 from the Institute of Medicine. Indeed, it found that there is only one geriatrician for every 2,500 seniors in America.
What can be Done?
According to experts in the area from kern City, the way to deal with this is not by just training more doctors but for physicians across the board to “think differently and communicate more.” For example, if a patient comes in with various ailments including mental issues, the physician should be able to prescribe medications but it might end up too costly for the individual on a low (fixed) income. Thus if there is a social worker on board, he/she can help with the financial issue and maybe find a generic pill that could reduce costs.
So basically, to improve the situation for the elderly, doctors and caretakers from different disciplines need to get together to discuss how best to proceed.
At the end of March, healthcare professionals will convene in Long Beach, CA to brainstorm on better ideas for caring for America’s “expanding senior population.” Clearly the group is looking to the future, since, as Dan Osterweil, MD pointed out, in 20 years’ time, “one of every five Americans will be 65 or older.” Thus these individuals will need the appropriate care. Osterweil is the course chair of the Leadership and Management in Geriatrics (LMG) Conference. The aim thus is to make eldercare more “efficient and less costly.” For this to be achieved, those in the healthcare profession need to “hone their leadership and management skills,” which is what the conference is focusing on.
The LMG Conference has been running for a decade in order to help fill the gap in geriatric care. Sponsored by SCAN Health Plan, it is run in collaboration with the UCLA Academic Geriatric Resource Center and the California Geriatric Education Center. It offers its participants (comprised of all sorts of health professionals) to brainstorm new ideas on geriatric care as well as giving them the opportunity to get help and guidance from leaders in the field.
The ultimate goal of course is, according to Osterweil, to “actually change behavior in ways that lead to a better patient experience.”