Michael M. Johns III, MD, is Director of the Emory Voice Center and Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology at Emory University in Atlanta.
Explore this issue:September 2008
We are on the verge of a crisis in geriatric medicine. Over the past 100 years, the proportion of Americans over age 65 has been growing incrementally. However, in the next several years, the number of people over age 65 will soar exponentially, with especially large increases in the >80 age group. Although the elderly currently make up approximately 12% of the population, this number will double as early as 2030.
Despite knowledge of the impending increase of elderly patients, our health care system is not ready. To care for this burgeoning geriatric population, substantial changes will be required in the way we deliver health care. In the Institute of Medicine report titled Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, committee chair John W. Rowe, MD, calls on all health care providers to become aware of what is upon us in geriatrics and to make changes to help effectively care for the aging American population. Changes will be critical in all areas of medicine, including otolaryngology.