There’s an entire generation that is in need of health care providers — the senior population. By 2060, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to double from 46 million today to over 96 million. At that time, seniors will make up almost a quarter of the US population. Because of this boost in this segment of the population, there’s a demand for those who work in geriatrics.
Geriatrics is the medical field dedicated to the care of older adults, primarily those aged 65 and older. Health care workers who care for older adults often work as a team, providing comprehensive care for patients, their caregivers and other family members, too.
This profession has a stable career outlook, but doesn’t get the consideration it deserves. Despite the increased need for those to provide care, programs are struggling to get students to enroll. According to recent data from the National Resident Matching Program, out of 139 geriatric fellowship programs available for 2018, only 35 appointments were filled. The fellowships offered 387 positions for residents, but only 176 were filled.
“Our current health care system is ill-equipped to provide the optimal care experience for patients with multiple chronic conditions or with functional limitations and disabilities,” Heather Whitson, associate professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, told U.S. News & World Report. It makes sense: it is estimated that by 2030, 2.3 million of Americans ages 65 and older will require nursing home care. This demand for care will also rise with the projected number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s. It is expected that the number will triple to 14 million by 2050. On top of that, obesity rates among seniors has increased to 40%, meaning more people are at risk of contracting a chronic disease and disability.
If you are looking to get into a health care career that values your caring and understanding nature, you should consider geriatric care. Being able to maintain patient wellbeing and independent functioning gives the elderly a chance to live longer, healthier lives. It is a rewarding career with benefits for the future; improvements in geriatrics means better, more thorough care when we all reach 65-years-old!
Some states have started to offer loan forgiveness incentives for future geriatrics health care professionals. South Carolina has already passed a bill forgiving medical school loans for doctors who become trained as geriatricians. Wyoming has jumped onboard with this offer as well.
Interested? Here are some health care careers with geriatric specializations:
The value and demand for geriatric medicine will never cease. As the lifespan of our population increases, our health needs increase as well. Any developments in and focus on this health care career will ensure a better future for all of us.