The nation faces an impending health care crisis as the number of older patients with more complex health needs increasingly outpaces the number of health care providers with the knowledge and skills to adequately care for them. As the nation's baby boomers turn 65 and older and are living longer lives, fundamental changes in the health care system need to take place, and greater financial resources need to be committed to ensure they can receive high-quality care. Right now, the nation is not prepared to meet the social and health care needs of elderly people.
The Institute of Medicine charged the ad hoc Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans to determine the health care needs of Americans over 65 years of age and to assess those needs through an analysis of the forces that shape the health care workforce, including education and training, models of care, and public and private programs.
The resulting report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, says that as the population of seniors grows to comprise approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, they will face a health care workforce that is too small and critically unprepared to meet their health needs. The committee concluded that if our aging family members and friends are to continue to live robustly and in the best possible health, we need bold initiatives designed to
explore ways to broaden the duties and responsibilities of workers at various levels of training;
- better prepare informal caregivers to tend to the needs of aging family members and friends; and
- develop new models of health care delivery and payment as old ways sponsored by federal programs such as Medicare prove to be ineffective and inefficient.