Alzheimer’s Physicians in Massachusetts are getting fewer every day compared to the growing number of people who need them.
In the US, nearly seven million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, a number that is expected to grow to nearly 14 million by 2050.
As early as 2013, a shortage of physicians had been identified at the state level.
The current structure makes it impossible to meet the new demand resulting from the increase in adults over 65.
And the entry of 35 million into the system due to healthcare reform.
This is because every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 and that is the age at which they are entitled to access the federal social security coverage system.
By 2025, it is estimated that the shortage of physicians will be close to 130,600.
And the shortage of primary care is estimated at 45,000, while the shortage of specialists and surgeons is estimated at 46,000.
Shortage of trained physicians in a state that has one of the highest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the country
Unfortunately, Massachusetts faces a shortage of physicians trained to treat Alzheimer’s.
This makes it difficult for both patients and their families to get the care they need.
According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 300 neurologists in the state in 2021.
But a recent report from the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that there are only 80 neurologists in Massachusetts who specialize in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
And even fewer geriatricians with expertise in dementia care.
This shortage of trained physicians is particularly troubling given that the state has one of the highest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the country.
Statistics and causes of the lack of Alzheimer’s Physicians in Massachusetts
According to the most recent Alzheimer’s Association report, there are a number of factors that exacerbate the context of the disease:
- Although neurologists and geriatricians can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease most effectively, it is emergency medicine specialists who see the majority of patients over the age of 60.
- The shortage of geriatricians and neurologists needed to care for the aging U.S. population, which is expected to grow from 58 million people over age 65 in 2021 to 88 million by 2050, remains a major challenge.
- Should the influx of new patients to assess eligibility for newly approved treatments for cognitive impairment increase, a shortage of specialists is likely to have the most immediate impact and even create a crisis due to a lack of professionals to meet this demand.
- Additionally, according to the report, 11 million caregivers provided unpaid care to people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, providing approximately 18 billion hours of unpaid care, a contribution valued at $339.5 billion.
One of the reasons for the shortage of Alzheimer’s physicians in Massachusetts is the lack of funding for research and physician training.
While there has been some progress in recent years, more must be done to support Alzheimer’s research and train physicians to diagnose and treat the disease.
This includes providing more funding for medical schools and research institutions, as well as providing incentives for physicians to specialize in geriatric medicine.
Another factor contributing to the shortage of Alzheimer’s physicians is the high cost of medical education.
Many students do not choose a career in geriatric medicine because of the high cost of medical school and the relatively low salaries for geriatric specialists.
To attract more physicians to the field, it is essential to find ways to reduce the cost of medical education and to level pay for geriatric specialists.
The aging population is also one of the causes, which is why the demand for geriatric care is expected to increase dramatically.
This means there will be a growing need for physicians trained to diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Without a sufficient number of physicians, many patients will not be able to receive the care they need.
Possible solutions to lack of Alzheimer’s Physicians in Massachusetts
Despite the growing prevalence of the disease, there is clearly a shortage of Alzheimer’s specialists in the country, making it difficult for patients to access the care they need.
To address this problem, some organizations and institutions dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research of the disease have proposed possible solutions to the shortage of Alzheimer’s specialists in the US:
Increase funding for Alzheimer’s disease research:
One way to address the shortage of Alzheimer’s disease specialists is to invest in more funding for research.
This way we can gain a better understanding of the disease and develop more effective treatments.
This could encourage more medical professionals to specialize in Alzheimer’s disease care and improve the quality of care available to patients.
Offer incentives for medical professionals to specialize in Alzheimer’s disease care:
Another solution is to offer incentives for medical professionals to specialize in Alzheimer’s disease care.
This could include tuition assistance, loan forgiveness, or other financial incentives that encourage medical professionals to pursue Alzheimer’s disease care as a specialization.
Develop online training programs:
Developing online training programs for Alzheimer’s disease care could help close the gap between the number of patients needing care and the number of specialists available.
Expand telemedicine services:
Telemedicine services enable medical professionals to provide care remotely, using videoconferencing technology.
By expanding telemedicine services, medical professionals can provide care to patients in rural or remote areas where access to Alzheimer’s specialists is limited.
Increase public awareness of the disease:
More medical professionals could be encouraged to specialize in Alzheimer’s care.
Through public education campaigns, media coverage and outreach to medical schools and other educational institutions to encourage more students to pursue Alzheimer’s care as a specialization.
For more information about Alzheimer’s care and Alzheimer’s care, we invite you to visit the Alzheimer’s Association table on our website.