It’s a sorry situation when a fifth of the town is elderly, yet there are no geriatric doctors to take care of them. But that is exactly what is happening in Putnam County, Florida. And it’s not just Florida that’s suffering either; apparently this phenomenon is affecting the whole of the country and is only going to get worse as the baby boomers become seniors over the next few decades.
This is not good and it is a problem that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, when there are even more seniors requiring specialized eldercare. Indeed, according to statistics from the American Geriatrics Society, there is approximately one geriatrician available for every 2,600 75+ year-olds! That is a staggering inadequacy and if this continues, then by 2030 the rate will be 1 to 3,800. Currently, the rate for pediatricians to kids is 1 for every 1,300.
America has to start realizing just how undervalued geriatricians are as well. They seem to be paid less but end up listening more to their patients and understand the seniors’ bodies extremely well. Seniors are definitely better off seeing a geriatrician than a regular family doctor due to their specific training in illnesses and lifestyle issues more common with the elderly population and how to help their families in times of difficulty, again more common in the senior sector.
It seems though that it is not such an attractive prospect for medics to go into. Many are leaving the profession that is already understaffed. Perhaps it is not so surprising since they are paid very little – especially when compared to other medical doctors. According to the Medical Group Management Association, the average salary in 2010 was $183,523. Other specialists get at least double or triple of this.
Clearly, if America is to care for its citizens’ general health, it needs to invest more in encouraging doctors to want to train and stay as geriatric doctors. As the baby boomers age, our population gets older and thus more of these doctors are needed throughout the nation.