Part of a series. For most of recorded human history, lifespans did not change. Life expectancy doubled in the twentieth century. At the time of Lincoln the average life span was 38 years; today it is about 78 to 80 years. But whenever it ends it is like a waterfall. Most people begin to die near to the expected point; the drop off in percentage still living declines precipitously. Fortunately, ...

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Part of a series. Those of you who have read some of my past posts are aware that I wrote mostly about various aspects of primary care and our dysfunctional healthcare delivery system overall. About 18 months ago I wrote a post for KevinMD on moving to a retirement community. More recently I became focused on the primary care needs of older individuals and from there got ...

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This spring, the California Board of Optometry shut down the only optometrist providing services to homebound patients in the San Francisco Bay Area. I learned about this because affected patients included several referred from our UC San Francisco Housecalls program, one of a few non-profit, non-concierge home-based practices in the state providing geriatrics care to homebound adults. With over 1 million adults homebound in California, why would any board deliberately limit ...

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Born in Canada, our mother came to the United States after World War II and blended into the Greatest Generation. Raising a family in the second half of the 20th century saw her contribute to a thriving American society then maintain retirement health on Medicare. But in her early 90s, this tranquility was threatened when her HMO hospital tried to kill her. She went to the emergency room with symptoms of ...

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Once upon a time, not that long ago, there was man who lived an uncomplicated life. One morning he awoke and did not feel well. He could not really describe his malaise, but he definitely was not his usual self. Nothing particularly noteworthy had happened to him except that his dog had recently died of old age. William, a scruffy little terrier, was 17 years old, and the man knew ...

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My longtime patient Brenda let the top of her exam gown drop to her waist, stepped down off the exam table and turned to look at herself in the mirror. As I watched, she cupped her seventy-eight-year-old breasts in her palms and unceremoniously hoisted them up to where they'd probably resided when she was in her twenties. "I'm thinking about having my boobs done," she said. "My girlfriend had hers done, ...

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Joe had one of the best geriatricians in the city.  So when he got a call from the pharmacist saying his new prescription was ready, he assumed that it had to do with his recent annual visit and blood draw. His suspicions were confirmed, a few minutes later, when he got through to the nurse at the office. Joe was politely informed that he had high cholesterol and was being put ...

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Patricia Bach, a geriatric psychology colleague who is active in social media, recently emailed me a question: How to encourage more clinicians in geriatrics and long-term care to use social media? In particular, she asked me “What do you feel is the ROI for geriatricians to use social media/networking in their professional roles?” This is an interesting question to consider. After all, we have a limited number of geriatricians available for a growing older ...

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It’s a well-known reality of health care economics that Americans spend a lot of money in the last year of life. I suppose that almost goes without saying, since serious illnesses and injuries that result in death are costly, at whatever age they occur. Being hit by a car and dying means you were hit by a car … in your last year of life. And that two weeks in ...

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In his post, "The geriatrician shortage: The problem isn’t what you think," I completely agree that the current gap in health care professionals’ skills to care well for our aging population is exceedingly complex, reaching well beyond lack of medical school training or funding.  Funding for graduate medical education needs to be transformed to match the workforce needs of the nation, with special attention to filling workforce ...

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