A few doctors you may want to get to know

Originally posted @allaboutestates.ca

We are aware that there is a shortage of doctors in Canada. Now as there are more seniors over age 65 than there are children under 15 years of age, the question is who will look after them?

Geriatricians are specialists in the care of the elderly.  They have specialized training which includes three years of core medicine and then two additional years in geriatric medicine[1].  They study the aging process and are able to assess what symptoms may be due to a disorder or what may just be the result of getting older. They deal with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of older individuals, typically over the age of 75. The number of these specialists is low and not enough to address the needs of our aging society.  A 2013 article[2] estimated that there were 250 geriatricians across Canada. A 2016 article[3] indicated that there were 261 geriatricians and more than 3,000 pediatricians. “Canadian health-care leaders often look to Scandinavian countries for alternate health delivery models.  A comparative is Sweden, where more than 600 geriatricians serve a population of more than 9.6 million.  Applying the same ratios in Canada for a population of 35.2 million would mean 2,200 geriatricians are needed to meet the growing demands on the  medical system.”  YIKES, we are nowhere close.

We also know that most seniors take 5 or more drugs and these numbers double in long term care facilities according to a May 2014 report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Seniors have co morbid and chronic conditions and these many medications can cause serious side effects.  Accessing a geriatrician who can help unravel the complexities of these issues can be a challenge.

The other specialized doctor you may want to get to know, is the ‘hospitalist’. This is a term used for physicians who are specialized in the care of the patient in the hospital. Typically these are internists or family practitioners who opt to spend an extra year of training in a specialized Hospital Medicine Fellowship. Within many hospitals this is the ‘go-to’ doctor.

Hope this information helps in assisting families access the right professionals and care at the right time.


[1] Care for the Aged by Scott Anderson published in the UofTMagazine 2009

[2] Canada facing shortage of geriatricians as population ages, Global News 2013

[3] Opinon: Who will care for the rapidly aging population? Dan Levitt, Vancouver Sun 2016

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