Trends In Aging
Solving the Caregiver Crisis With Creative Solutions
As Population Ages, Where Are the Geriatricians? – The New York Times
Doctor in the House?
Who will provide medical care for American’s over 75? Good question. Uncertain (read scary) answer.
“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.”
What does this mean? Not enough geriatricians to care for older adults. Not even close.
“According to projections based on census data, by the year 2030, roughly 31 million Americans will be older than 75, the largest such population in American history. There are about 7,000 geriatricians in practice today in the United States. ”
Why do medical students avoid studying diseases and conditions related to aging? Money.
“People avoid the field for understandable reasons. Geriatrics is among the lowest-paying specialties in medicine.”
But earning potential is just one of the deterrents. The other is, not surprisingly, Medicare.
“Medicare disadvantages geriatricians at every turn, paying whatever is asked for medications and procedures, but a pittance for tough care-planning,’ said Dr. Joanne Lynn, a geriatrician and the director of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness at Altarum Institute, a nonprofit health systems research organization based in Ann Arbor, Mich.”
What makes geriatricians different from internists and other physicians who treat adults? Training and knowing exactly what to look for to diagnose and treat the complex conditions specific to older people.
While this appears to be a simple supply and demand problem, the solution is anything but simple.
Active Aging at Home
Want to Spend Your Senior Years at Home? Here’s How to Do It – US News & World Report
In fact, it’s never been easier to continue living safely and comfortably at home as you age if you follow these three steps:
Create a Safe Environment
Be Realistic About Your Needs
Stay Active and Engaged
Get inspired by these refreshingly original ideas for easy, affordable ways to make your home safer—and feel empowered by the changes you make. “It’s transformative for people to own the aging process,” says Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, head of care for in-home services provider Honor, and living in their own house is one way many people are doing just that.”
Yep. US News & World Report’s care expert is our care expert too.
Unfair Child Care
Who cares? Meet the children who juggle school with looking after their parents – The Telegraph
“A growing army of schoolchildren act as carers for family members in need.” While this feature focuses on families in the UK, this problem is also on the rise in the US.
“The number of young carers – people under the age of 18 who provide unpaid care and support to someone in their family who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or debilitated due to drug abuse, such as a parent, sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent – is rising.” But experts speculate this increase is simply the result of more child caregivers “being identified by teachers, doctors and friends, rather than working in isolation.”
What’s the solution? First, spotting a young caregiver who is doing far more caregiving of an adult than any child should, then getting support to these families.
“Support,” says Laura Bennett, senior policy manager for young and young-adult carers at Carers Trust, “could mean someone coming in to care for the adult so the child can get to school on time’.
Every family caregiver needs support. But when the caregiver is a child, creating a support network takes a village.
Call For a Fair Economy
Ending the ‘Independent Contractor’ Charade in On-Demand and Just-In-Time Work – Huffington Post
We were pleased to be mentioned at the top of companies doing the right thing, according to Catherine Ruckelshaus of the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
“The pivotal question of employee-or-not is heating up, and the stakes are high.” We couldn’t agree more.
In her fiery opinion piece, Ruckelshaus does not mince words. “We all would be better off if all companies, regardless of their size or the ‘economy’ in which they operate, treated their workers responsibly, fairly, and legally, rather than funneling the profits workers create into forging special carve-outs for cheats that don’t want to play by the rules.”
Better Ways and Means
Why We Must Rethink the Way We Care for Seniors – Hospitals & Health Networks
“Our nation’s aging population calls for some radical changes in geriatric care,” writes Chris Wing, CEO of SCAN Health Plan.
In this thoughtful call to action, Wing suggests five ways to improve care for older adults. All of Wing’s ideas for radical change are insightful and important. Our two favorites?
“Third, we need to confront a caregiver crisis in America: A large percentage of today’s home caregivers are seniors themselves. Spending days and nights caring for a loved one — perhaps a spouse of 50 years — can take a heavy physical and mental toll on those delivering the care.
“Fourth, we need to focus senior care on the right care in the right setting at the right time…and that includes avoiding costly and uncomfortable hospitalizations or emergency department visits whenever possible.”
Radical thinking like this is the first step to creating radical—much needed—changes to the way we care for our older loved ones.
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