Geriatrics: Caring for the Nation’s Elders
By the year 2020, when the baby boomers become the older generation, 17% of the population will be over the age of 65; at least 12 million elders will be over 85. Older adults will utilize over one-half of the nation's health care services. These demographic trends challenge medical schools not only to increase the amount of course work in geriatrics, but to teach those components in a way that promotes caring attitudes toward aging adults. Unfortunately, very few students aspire to a career in geriatrics, thus healthcare will most often be provided to elders by their general practitioners. Providing adequate health services to this burgeoning aging population presents a major challenge to this Nation’s healthcare system. Preparing tomorrow’s physicians to offer this care to their older patients is a daunting task for all medical schools. Recognizing the gravity of this mandate, SIU School of Medicine has embraced the challenge enthusiastically. An innovative Geriatrics program has been developed to familiarize students with the myriad of health care issues related to the diverse older adult population. Helping students develop caring attitudes toward elders is at the heart of the program. SIU School of Medicine is committed to ensuring that graduates possess the requisite knowledge, experience, and skills to provide competent and compassionate care to their future older patient populations.
A grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations has helped support the development of the Program, “Aging (Couple) Across the Curriculum.”