In order to meet the needs of this population now and in the future, The GW Medical Faculty Associates initiated the Medical House Call Program in 2003. Since then, our physicians and staff have provided hands-on, high quality, medical care to hundreds of men and women with complex and serious illnesses who have difficulty leaving their homes, regardless of their ability to pay. Our mission is two-fold. First, we seek to improve the quality of life of the homebound and frail elderly, as well as their caregivers. Second, we train the next generation of physicians about the complex needs of this forgotten population.
In the United States, we have more than 36 million people age 65 and older—accounting for just over 12 percent of the total population. It is estimated that, in 2030, 20 per cent of the US population will be 65 and older. For the frailest of our aging population—the frail elderly and the homebound—the District of Columbia has the highest health care costs and its poorest outcomes. The costs associated with caring for these individuals are staggering.
At the same time, there are only 7,600 certified geriatricians in the United States with an estimated need of 21,000 currently, and 36,000 by 2030. The number of individuals in US geriatric training programs has declined over the last few years. Many older patients are being cared for by doctors and others with little or no experience in the field of aging. These physicians may not know that prescription medications, for instance, are metabolized differently by the aging body.