Specialist in Issues of Midlife & Older Adults

Monthly Archives: August 2016

Not Enough Geriatricians or Geriatric Psychotherapists Either

One of our old friends Katie Hafner just wrote an important article for the NY Times entitled “As Population Ages, Where Are the Geriatricians?”. Katie eloquently explains the situation which is that this country is woefully underserved when it comes to doctors who understand the myriad complexity of symptoms that older people encounter. Docs are under-reimbursed by Medicare and so many choose not to go into this field. Others find it too complicated, too difficult, maybe too sad for them. At any rate, treating older people is NOT the same as treating younger people – whether it involves the medical field or the mental health field! Here’s a top-notch quote from Katie’s article that speaks to that fact:

Dr. Eckstrom was a general internist who practiced in primary care for nine years before returning to Oregon Health and Science University to complete a geriatrics fellowship. “I thought I was doing a good job caring for my patients,” she said. “But I wanted to do more geriatrics teaching and research.” The fellowship opened her eyes. “I had no idea what I didn’t know,” she said.

I hope there will be more articles and education for the public about this critical lack of informed care for the rapidly growing aging population. Someone commented that the government should increase Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors – and I think for mental health professionals too – to encourage more people to go into this field. Someone even suggested the government should pay the student debt for medical students going into geriatrics. We have to do something!