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DOCTORS NEEDED TO PREPARE FOR SENIOR BOOM, COMMITTEE TOLD

 DOCTORS NEEDED TO PREPARE FOR SENIOR BOOM, COMMITTEE TOLD
 WASHINGTON, July 8 /PRNewswire/ -- "We must prepare for an aging society," Dr. Robert N. Butler, national vice chairman of the Alliance for Aging Research, told the U.S. House of Representatives at a hearing of the Select Committee on Aging. "We must examine how we currently practice medicine. In many respects, we still practice what I have called 'Peter Pan' medicine -- treating individual diseases while avoiding the issues of aging, dying and death. It is time we move medicine out of 'Never Never Land' and into the 21st Century," Butler added.
 The hearing examined a study released by the alliance which detailed a national shortage of geriatricians, doctors specifically trained to treat older people. The study found the shortage severe in every state. On average, there are only 1.32 geriatricians for every 10,000 older people. In the states of Arkansas, Indiana and Arizona, for example, there is not even one geriatrician for every 10,000 older people.
 Today, more than 32 million Americans are age 65 and over. By 2030, more than 60 million will be over the age of 65. The 4,084 certified geriatricians is far short of the 20,000 doctors the Alliance estimates are currently needed to adequately care for this growing population and by 2030, the need will increase to 36,000 geriatricians. With only 13 out of 126 U.S. medical schools that currently require geriatric coursework and training, the gap will continue to widen.
 The alliance report recommends measures to close the gap. Among the suggestions is the development of a leadership core of physician- scientist faculty specializing in geriatrics, expanding exposure of geriatric medicine to all medical students and increasing the number of practicing physicians who obtain the certificate of added qualifications in geriatric medicine.
 In his testimony, Butler emphasized the need to increase the number of academic leaders to train future medical students in geriatric medicine. Specifically, Butler called for full funding of 10 federal Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers and equal support from the private sector to train doctors in geriatrics. Butler pointed to SmithKline Beecham Company as the first corporation to donate $1.5 million through an alliance program to establish 10 Centers of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine. The SmithKline Center will be at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.
 The committee also heard testimony from experts in the field of geriatrics as well as from Lt. Col. Nancy Van Duyne who accompanied her father, George Farris, a retired U.S. Agriculture Department employee, who was misdiagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and almost unnecessarily admitted to a nursing home. Farris was later treated by a geriatrics assessment team and properly diagnosed and continuing to live independently free from Parkinson's disease.
 The Alliance for Aging Research is a non-profit organization working to increase the health and independence of older people.
 -0- 7/8/92
 /CONTACT: Paul DelPonte of the Alliance for Aging Research, 202-293-2856/ CO: Alliance for Aging Research ST: District of Columbia IN: SU:


DC -- DC003 -- 7307 07/08/92 09:30 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 8, 1992
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