By the year 2030, the population of people over the age of 65 in the United States is estimated to reach approximately 72 million, nearly double what it is today. Medical schools must prepare students to care for older adults, regardless of a student’s ultimate specialty. General internists and family physicians who provide primary care will assume care for most older adults, but medical and surgical specialists in all fields and emergency medicine physicians also will see more and more older adults. While family physicians, general internists and others provide care for many older adults — and do it very well— geriatricians focus on the relationship between managing diseases and maintaining function and quality of life.
Creating a vision for care of the older adult has been part of the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s mission since its inception. This vision was focused more sharply in 2006 with the creation of the Department of Geriatrics, which was the result of a community collaboration that included Premier Health Partners, the Dayton VA Medical Center and the Oscar Boonshoft family. Now, the department works collaboratively with the school’s other departments, affiliated hospitals and many area agencies and organizations to promote comprehensive geriatric care across all settings. Department faculty also work with faculty from other departments to incorporate the principles of geriatric medicine into the Biennium I and Biennium II curricula and participate in the education of family medicine and internal medicine residents.
Current research activities include interdisciplinary work on falls, delirium, dementia, long term care of frail older adults and caregiver advocacy. A major research goal for the department is the study of interventions and models of care that will allow older adults in the Miami Valley to remain safely in their homes for as long as possible. An accredited fellowship in geriatric medicine established in July 2008 trains two fellows each year.