Posted May 20, 2009

The United States is facing an immediate and growing crisis in
providing care for our aging population, which is projected to almost
double from 37 million today to nearly 72 million by 2030. Health care
providers with the necessary training to give older Americans the best
possible care, are in critically short supply.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced the Caring for An Aging America Act. This legislation attempts to address the growing nationwide shortage of health care professionals and direct-care workers needed to meet the health care needs of older adults.

  • 7,128 U.S. physicians are certified geriatricians today; 36,000 geriatricians are needed by 2030.
  • Less than 3% of U.S. medical students opt to take an elective in geriatrics.
  • Only 5% of social workers are trained in aging issues and only 3% of advance practice nurses specialize in aging.
  • Recruitment and retention of direct care workers
    in home-based care, assisted living and nursing homes also is a looming
    crisis due to low wages and few benefits, lack of work status, lack of
    career advancement, potential for injury and inadequate training.

Among other things, the law would establish a Geriatric and Gerontology Loan Repayment Program for physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, advance practice nurses, psychologists, and social workers who complete training in geriatrics or gerontology and agree to provide care for older adults, full-time, for at least two years.

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