Where Are The Doctors?

As people live longer, there’s plenty of talk about what constitutes a good way to die. But not many people are talking about those who aren’t yet dying, yet are living frail, miserable lives.

A story in the New York Times recounts one woman’s experience trying to deal with someone in that category.

Families don’t know what to do with these loved ones. Keep them at home? Get a caregiver? Put them in a home?

The story says good geriatric care can make a big difference in these people’s lives.

The family in the story found a good geriatrician who was a big help to this woman’s father who had been overdrugged in a nursing home to keep him from acting out. It turns out he was in pain from a prior broken hip and arthritis.

The doctor found he had been receiving no pain meds. So he got some. It stopped his acting out and he got off his mood stabilizers which had made him into a zombie.

But the story says this doctor was a rarity. There aren’t enough geriatricians. By 2025 there will be 90 million seniors in this country, including 19 million over age 85. But there will only be one geriatrician for every 4,000 seniors. Ideally, there would be one for every 300 seniors.

Why? Because geriatrics doesn’t pay well. It is going to be a true national crisis unless something is done, the story argues.

If you have questions about elder law, feel free to call us for a consultation at (626) 696-3145.

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