As the number of elderly drivers steadily increases, the decision about when it’s time to stop driving often falls to their children, who must make the gut-wrenching choice to take away the car keys, and often, their parents’ independence. But two Connecticut doctors are studying various aspects of elderly driving and their findings could eventually make the decision-making process easier or perhaps even keep elderly drivers on the road longer. At Yale New Haven Hospital, geriatrics researcher Dr. Richard Marottoli is studying driving longevity in women compared to men. He’s working to identify gender differences, determine whether women are more likely to stop driving sooner than men, and whether there is any relationship between brain volume, adverse driving experiences and medical history as it relates to the ability to drive safely. At UConn Health Center on Aging in Farmington, Dr. Kevin Manning, a neuropsychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry, is conducting a separate study using a Patterson Grant, defining what aging factors affect driving ability, identifying correctable difficulties that could help extend the driving lifetime and measuring how loss of a driver’s license is associated with the risk of depression and mortality.
Health experts are struggling to narrow the gaps in Connecticut’s geriatric care to meet the needs of the state’s rapidly aging population. The state needs more professionals to focus on geriatric care while also addressing other ways to meet the increasingly complex care needs of older residents, says the American Geriatric Society (AGS). In Connecticut, only 134 certified geriatricians are currently practicing—caring for a 65-plus population that topped 577,000 in 2015, according to the AGS. And that population will continue to grow, the AGS says, with an elderly population of 956,000 expected by 2030. That’s a 40 percent increase, and will require an estimated 340 geriatric specialists to meet that treatment need.
‘Patient-centric care’ is one of those catch phrases that have little grounding in real-world patient-provider encounters. But later this month, hundreds of Connecticut health care consumers and clinicians will come together for a first-of-its-kind conference that aims to foster patient engagement in medical care. “Better Health: Everyone’s Responsibility,” set for Sept. 17 at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, is a step in bringing patients and providers together to discuss joint decision-making in medical care – from medication management, to end-of-life care, to navigating provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the summit – open to the public – is to break down barriers between providers and the people they serve, by giving both sides a crash course in key health-care issues and effective ways of communicating.