Young and old people use healthcare differently. While a young person might go to a doctor to get a prescription for new contact lenses or to seek antibiotics for a sinus infection, older people are more likely to see a doctor regularly to help manage and treat chronic conditions like high cholesterol or hypertension. The average 75-year-old American has three chronic conditions and uses four or more prescription medications, according to an April 2008 report by the Institute of Medicine.
A new survey found that baby boomers want medical care specifically geared toward older patients. Both 55- to 64-year-olds (83 percent) and those over age 65 (87 percent) say it is important to see a healthcare provider with specialized training for adults in their respective age ranges, according to the online survey of 3,110 adults over age 55 by Zogby International and the American System for Advancing Senior Health.
But those highly trained doctors can be elusive. About half of 55-to-64-year-olds (55 percent) and those over age 65 (52 percent) say they've encountered difficulty finding a specialized doctor for their age ranges, the Zogby survey found. And just as we experience a boom of older patients in the United States, the number of geriatric specialists is decreasing, the Institute of Medicine reports. There are approximately 7,100 physicians currently certified in geriatrics in the United States. That's one per every 2,500 older Americans.
Almost all health providers care for older patients to some extent during their careers. Tell us, do you want to see a geriatric-care specialist to treat chronic conditions or is a general practitioner good enough?