Geriatricians are physicians who specialize in the care of older people. They are also a rare breed in American society. We have only about 6,000 of us in a nation of 300,00,000 citizens. Want to know what is worse?
With every passing year, the number of geriatricians goes down.
The answer lies in the ageism of contemporary American society.
It is hard to attract doctors into the profession of caring for older people when…
1) The work pays (COMPARATIVELY!) poorly.
2) When aging is thought to equal decline then the work of caring for older people is seen as the work of managing decline and that is just not fun.
3) Geriatricians have NO POWER inside of academic medical systems and thus have little ability to protect their programs from budget cuts. Having fewer training programs result in having fewer geriatricians.
When I talk to doctors and nurses I remind them that, going forward, every single day will bring them into contact with more older people—- the future itself, is aging.