COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., (KRDO) – According to an analysis by the National Center for Health Workforce, there was already a shortage of geriatricians, doctors who specialize in health care for the elderly, in 2013. Now, an expected increase in demand by 2025 is not expected to be met.
Additionally, a study of the current and future US neurology workforce predicted a 19% shortage of neurologists by 2025 by 2050 the situation is expected to worsen.
The state of Colorado currently has 96 board-certified geriatricians, a very low number and rural areas could be the hardest hit. To treat the population of people aged 65 and over with dementia in 2050, it is estimated that Colorado will need about 289 geriatricians.
Nationally, the United States has about 5,170 geriatricians, but it will need about 15,000 to serve the population with dementia in 2050.
“We live in an aging society, we have a large group of baby boomers who are past retirement age, but if people are undiagnosed it creates a different set of issues,” said Jim Herlihy, senior director of marketing for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado.
As the population ages in southern Colorado, the number of people with cognitive deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, increases.
“These professionals are critical to the process of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia or if there are any cases where it might be something that mimics Alzheimer’s disease to determine that it is not not the case and figure out the best way to deal with it,” Herlihy said. .
The Alzheimer’s Association says there are not enough geriatricians. To meet demand by 2050, officials say there will need to be at least a 200% increase. Herlihy says the solution is simple but may take some time.
“Until we can graduate more people in this medical specialty – what we want to encourage people to do if they see the symptoms of it is go see their doctor, go see their doctor family because too many people are afraid of what they might find out,” added Herlihy.