Geriatrics for the 3rd millennium.Wien Klin Wochenschr. 2000 May 05; 112(9):386-93.WK
It is a common knowledge that the population around the world is growing old at an unprecedented rate. This is the success story of increasing life expectancy. The demographic breakthroughs occurred in the 20th century. The quality of life breakthrough is our challenge for the 21st century. The implications of the growing elderly population are many, including: rising total health care expenditures; the increasing needs for long-term care services; and the need for expert and focused health care services. Since health care costs increase with advancing age of populations, these costs will fall on older persons, families, and society generally. There is real value for everyone in meeting the needs of an aging society, especially if seen as part of a social contract. The ability to live independently improves with access to good care, but decreases dramatically for those with age-related disabling conditions. With the decreasing number of informal caregivers around the world, frail elderly will require more formal long-term care services. However, due to inadequate attention given to long-term care issues, numerous developed countries have recently started to struggle to develop long-term care service programs that will both meet the rising needs for this service and be cost-effective. Effective medical care requires expertise in functional assessment, interdisciplinary care, and advances in treating symptoms of aging. The field of geriatrics is essential to modern health care, and geriatricians need to have proper training that focuses diagnosing and treating this group of patients. Quality care will not only help the elderly to live productively and independently, but it will also tremendously benefit families and communities.