By 2026, more than 20 per cent of our population will be 65 years and older, the majority of whom will be women. Our aging population is expanding, but the opportunity for specialized care is limited – Canada is home to only 304 geriatricians.
Given the mismatch between the number of geriatricians and our aging population, new models of care have been proposed to extend the reach of geriatricians.
Some suggest that the specialty should focus on increasing the capacity of all healthcare providers to care for older people rather than increasing the number of geriatricians recruited to provide this care. Consistent with this approach, primary care physicians can obtain ‘Care of the Elderly’ training to provide them with additional skills to care for older adults. Research is another avenue we can use to spread the reach of geriatric medicine.
The American Geriatrics Society has proposed a four-part approach to address this problem: more geriatric experts, more geriatric training for the whole work force, more public health education to empower older adults and caregivers, and more health policy that can support us all as we age.
It’s important to understand the gap in geriatric care between need and supply. By raising awareness of this issue, we can start a conversation and plan appropriate models of care to optimize the health and wellness of our population.
Article courtesy of Dr. Paula Rochon and Nathan Stall
Paula Rochon is a geriatrician, the vice-president of research at Women’s College Hospital and the RTOERO Chair in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Nathan Stall is a geriatrician and research fellow at the University of Toronto and Women’s College Research Institute.