Experts see shortage of geriatric care in the near future

Lisa Wurth

April 6, 2011

With 78 million baby boomers approaching retirement age – and 10,000 turning 65 every day – healthcare professionals are worried that hospitals and other facilities may not have the resources to accommodate every patient. This may lead to a crisis in geriatric care that could result in longer waiting times and hospital stays.

However, many are scrambling to find alternative care solutions. One device, the personal emergency response system, is expected to gain traction in the coming years as more adults look for ways to safely age at home. This product can be installed and used to send medical alerts to a call center if one needs assistance.

Another possible solution is video-conferencing with a doctor, a practice which has come to be known as telehealth. Universities are also trying to make geriatric care a mandatory field for all aspiring healthcare workers.

"Why is gerontology not required? That's what's got to change, that narrow view of what's fundamental," Heather Young, the associate vice chancellor of University of California-Davis, told Scripps Howard News Service.

She added that there will have to be innovative telemedicine techniques in order to keep healthcare sustainable in the future and hopes that the technology proves useful for those with chronic conditions who want to live at home.