The number of seniors in the United States is projected to nearly double over the next 34 years—from 43 million in 2012 to nearly 84 million by 2050. During that time period, the number of seniors 85 and older is expected to jump from nearly 6 million to 19 million.
“Our Parents, Ourselves: Health Care for an Aging Population,” a report issued by the Dartmouth Atlas Project, a program of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, also reveals that the number of seniors in Medicare private health plans such as Medicare Advantage increased from 6.4 million beneficiaries in 1999 to nearly 12 million in 2011—and that number continues to rise.
Because seniors are likely to experience frequent, complex interactions across many providers in the healthcare system, often there’s no single healthcare provider coordinating all of their care, according to the report, which was released in early 2016.
In addition, the American Geriatrics Society’s Choosing Wisely guidelines, which were released in 2013 and updated in 2015, provide geriatrics-specific recommendations to the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely campaign. The campaign advances a national dialogue on avoiding wasteful or unnecessary medical tests, treatments, and procedures.
Here are four areas of elderly care—highlighted in the report and guidelines—that healthcare systems and health plans should be aware of to ensure that elderly patients aren’t receiving unnecessary care.