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.
Doug Crocker knows a thing or two about driving. The 74-year-old former Hartford police officer and his wife have navigated the continental U.S. three times in their motor home. Even experienced drivers feel the effects of aging when behind the wheel. “It’s harder to turn around now to look for blind spots,” he said. “Backing up is a real issue too,” especially when he drives the Jeep they tow along for in-town use.
Connecticut outperforms most states in addressing elder long-term care, but needs to improve support for family caregivers, transitions between hospitals and other settings and affordability of nursing homes, according to a national report card. The state ranks 12th overall among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in meeting 26 indicators across five key dimensions of care. It scored high in offering choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care. And while it ranks high for access to care, it needs to substantially improve affordability. The state fares poorly in care transitions (39th) – the process of shifting care from one setting to another – and in support for family caregivers (30th).