Baby Boomer Aging Medical Statistics
– The Statistics Are Staggering
America’s 78 million Baby Bloomers are turning 65 at a rate of one every 10 seconds (3 million to 4 million per year).
The sheer statistical numbers of our Baby Boomer Demographic alone means that we are becoming a larger and larger part of nearly every physician’s practice.
By age 65, statistics show that two-thirds of all Baby Bloomers have at least one chronic disease and have seen seven physicians.
Situations like these are a nightmare for patients and the physicians who treat us and it won’t get any better.
Over the age of 65, two-thirds of Baby Boomers are expected to have 5 or more chronic diseases, see 15 physicians and average over 40 doctor visits a year.
Variations in therapies, medications and even differing instructions can be confusing, conflicting and hard for physicians and patients to remember.
Not all physicians are prepared to treat an office full of aging Baby Boomers.
However, progress is being made to better prepare physicians for the inevitable onslaught of the needs of aging Baby Boomers.
How the medical community is preparing for aging Baby Boomers.
• The AMA now has policies that call for all physicians with older patients to be competent in geriatrics. This policy applies to physicians at all levels, including undergraduates, residents and practicing physicians.
• The American Association of Medical Colleges has now developed for medical students programs covering 26 geriatric competencies which include being able to explain the impact of age-related changes on drug selection and dosage, diagnosing dementia and talking with patients and families about palliative care.
• Similar competencies in geriatrics have been developed for residents in the fields of surgery, family medicine, internal medicine and emergency medicine, and for other specialists involved in treating older patients. In addition, opportunities now exist for resident training in nursing homes and community- and home-based care.
• On a very positive note, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides 100% Medicare coverage for annual preventive sessions for Baby Boomers over 65 and seniors. This will be a great benefit to practitioners with geriatric patients. It allows physicians time to discuss a variety of important subjects with their older patients. The law is broad enough that we will be able to tailor these sessions to our patients, and it should make a tremendous difference.
• The AMA website, through their program on Aging and Community Health, offers a wealth of resources for dealing with aging Baby Boomers and for making that process easier for your doctor, their staff and you.
• The AMA Department of Aging and Community Health has issued a short book written by 47 contributors, most of whom are physicians. Based on personal experience in a variety of fields, the work is designed to fit the lives of busy practitioners and offer insights on how to tailor their practices for older patients. Topics include structural design of practice space, how to evaluate how well a physicians practice serves aging Baby Boomers, staffing and human resources, health literacy, patient self-management, culturally effective care, health disparities, coordination of care in “medical homes” and the family caregiver’s role.
Geriatric Care by Design was borne out of the AMA’s Aging and Community Health Aging Team’s Expert Panel in the 2014 meeting. It should be a valuable resource for those physicians moving toward more geriatric-centered practices.
I don’t know what the situation will be for Baby Boomer geriatric patients in 25 years, but I do know it will be different.
Steps taken today will lead to a more enlightened, caring, competent and better-equipped world to help aging Baby Boomer patients age gracefully and live out our final years in dignity.
VIDEO: Aging Baby Boomer