More physicians needed with training to care for older adults

Daniel L. Swagerty Jr., Wright State University

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Daniel L. Swagerty Jr., Wright State University

Geriatricians are in short supply, according to a new report, yet these particular primary care physician’s skills are high in demand to care for the health needs of older adults.

The Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Facts and Figures report includes a new section this year reviewing the dementia care workforce.

There were 163 geriatricians in Ohio at the time of the report.

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The report says 55% of primary care physicians caring for people living with Alzheimer’s report there are not enough dementia care specialists in their communities to meet patient demands.

Dr. Dan Swagerty, chair of the Boonshoft School of Medicine department of geriatrics, said he understands different physicians are going to be called to different specialties. His biggest goal is help more people across the board to learn about taking good care of older adults, in whatever field they are in.

“If I can get more primary care physicians, that is a good thing. If I can get more geriatricians, that’s even better. But the reality is that all of us are in medicine and collaborating and it is really going to be all of our jobs to take better care of older adults,” he said.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Ohio has been already facing a shortage in the workforce of people to care for older adults.

This includes primary care physicians and specialists such as geriatricians and neurologists who diagnose Alzheimer’s; skilled care workforce such as registered nurses and physical therapists who help treat individuals during the course of their illness; and members of the direct care workforce such as home health aides and personal care aides who help with activities of daily living and some household tasks.

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There are some barriers to entering the field of geriatrics.

This includes that it is among the lower paid specialties of medicine. Swagerty said it can be hard to get reimbursed in the current system, when it is easier to get paid for a specific procedure then intense team based care.

“That said, many surveys have shown this is that geriatricians tend to rank among specialties that are highest terms of satisfaction in terms of job satisfaction,” he said.

Geriatrics demand

163: Current geriatricians in Ohio

537: Geriatricians needed in 2050 to serve 10% of those 65 and older

1,611: Geriatricians needed in 2050 to serve 30% of those 65 and older

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