Q&A: Primary care faces ‘incredible strain’ as aging population grows – Healio



Gersch reports receiving a stipend for his work as a medical director of a nursing home.

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About one in five Americans will be aged 65 years or older by 2030, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau also estimated that the proportion of older adults in the U.S. will increase 9 percentage points by 2060, from 15% of the population to 24%.

About one in five Americans will be aged 65 years or older by 2030. Source: Adobe Stock.

According to Elsevier Health’s “Clinician of the Future” report, 93% of participating clinicians identified aging and the aging population as key drivers of change in health care. This growing population will likely present challenges for primary care and family medicine physicians, who may see an increasing number of patients with multimorbidity.

Healio spoke with Daron W. Gersch, MD, FAAFP, a family physician at CentraCare hospital in Minnesota and the vice speaker of the American Academy of Family Physicians, about how providers can adapt to meet the needs of their older patient population.

Healio: What proportion of patients are aged 65 years or older?

Gersch: Currently, in the general population, I would say adults aged 65 years or older make about one-fifth of the population, but they probably make up more about one-third of clinic visits, and maybe even as much as a half of hospital visits. They do use a larger proportion of the health care resources compared with younger people. A lot of that has to do with as they get older, they get sicker and require visits more frequently. I do think it is going to increase as time goes on.

Healio: How is the growing aging population challenging PCPs?

Gersch: One of the biggest challenges I think the aging population is bringing to primary care is keeping up on their preventive care. The aging population has a lot of prevention that we want to try and do in order to maintain their health. As family physicians, we truly believe in maintaining health, and that prevention is worth a pound of cure. Trying to get people who are over age 65 years to do their preventive care is one of the bigger challenges. The challenges that come with that include basically having the time and the staff required to do these preventive visits. It can take a fair amount …….


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